The Model by Lars Saabye Christensen

The Model

Lars Saabye Christensen

Peter Wihl, a celebrated painter, is nearing 50 when he’s told he is going blind. Slow to begin, this well-translated story reveals the desperate measures he takes to regain his sight in order to finish paintings for his new exhibition. This achieved, we read of the reaction of his family and manager to his new look – and of the personal cost he endures. An easy read building to an explosive end.

Even before the first scene was over Peter had had enough. Once again he was taken aback by the seductively fraudulent symmetry, this time in this fallacious story based on reality, as was claimed in the blurb, and no stories can be more fallacious than those based on so-called reality: the blind artisan who is forced to send his only daughter away, the beautiful daughter, who becomes a servant girl in Vermeer's house and in due course his model. It was too much for Peter. It was romantic and evil. It hit a raw nerve and upset him. He could not tolerate it. It was more than he could endure. He had to go. He had never left a film in the middle before. He had always stayed in his seat whether he was dying for a pee, thirsty, drunk, ill or desperate; no matter how trashy the film was, he had stayed in the cinema as if cast under a spell of politeness, fear, habit, good manners until it was over and the guilty parties were named in the credits. Now he had to get out. It was like a conspiracy, the conspiracy of symmetry and he was being encircled and crowded in. It was becoming ever more stifling. He could not breathe. Soon he would have a panic attack. He had to get out, the sooner the better. He had to get away from this extravagant delusion, this symmetrical hell. He found Kaia's hand.
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