Lars, the narrator, a Swedish writer. He has a wife and children, as well as an alter ego named Sigismund III, the king of Poland. Lars apparently writes the novel titled Sigismund under direction from the Polish king. In fact, the entire book is made up of the narrator’s attempts to describe his writing process and the rationale for the text he produces. The novel encompasses various styles and genres, including science fiction, fantasy, pornography, and realism.
Sigismund III, the king of Poland from 1587 to 1632, the narrator’s alter ego, who calls Lars his “stand-in.” the narrator supposedly writes for this king, who, at the end of the novel, shows up at the narrator’s door complaining about the book’s composition.
Laura G., a friend of the narrator and of his wife. This artist becomes the subject of some of Lars’s fanciful writing. Drawing his inspiration from her comment that she would sell her soul to the devil for perfection in her paintings and wealth, Lars creates a narrative in which Laura descends into hell to determine whether she would care to spend eternity there. In Lars’s fiction, she requests of hell the opportunity to become another person for one day. The boundary between fantasy and reality breaks down when Lars sees Laura as a young man on a street in Berlin. Apparently, she has signed a contract with the devil....
(The entire section is 549 words.)