Lars Lennart Westin
Lars Lennart Westin, a retired elementary school teacher living in virtual isolation in the Swedish province of Västmanland. A lean, spent man, he is thirty-nine years old but looks much older. Intensely self-absorbed, he keeps a series of notebooks that record the mundane facts of his life, his imaginative explorations of past and present, and the course of his fatal disease, cancer of the spleen. As the novel begins, he has received a letter from a local hospital, probably containing test results and the diagnosis of his ailment. He burns the letter, unopened. As his story unfolds, he reveals his obsession with pain, the deception and lack of communi-cation that have marked most of his relationships, his desire to understand himself, his resolution never to give up in his various struggles, and his terrible conclusion that his life was real only during his last few months of terminal suffering.
Margaret, Westin’s wife for ten years until their divorce, around 1970. The pale and thin daughter of an intensely bourgeois family dominated by a tyrannical father, Margaret initially shared with Westin an aversion to a hypocritical and uncaring society and a desire for independence. As he reviews their uneventful, unsuccessful marriage, Westin discovers that deception, guilt, and Margaret’s need to control him were the foundations of their relationship. He refuses to notify her of his...
(The entire section is 535 words.)