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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Childhood

Childhood

The Copenhagen Trilogy: Book 1

The Copenhagen Trilogy (Volume 1)

Tove Ditlevsen; Translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunnally

FSG Originals

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The celebrated Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen begins the Copenhagen Trilogy ("A masterpiece" The Guardian) with Childhood, her coming-of-age memoir about pursuing a life and a passion beyond the confines of her upbringing—and into the difficult years described in Youth and Dependency

Tove knows she is a misfit whose childhood is made for a completely different girl. In her working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen, she is enthralled by her wild, red-headed friend Ruth, who initiates her into adult secrets. But Tove cannot reveal her true self to her or to anyone else. For "long, mysterious words begin to crawl across" her soul, and she comes to realize that she has a vocation, something unknowable within her—and that she must one day, painfully but inevitably, leave the narrow street of her childhood behind.

Childhood, the first volume in the Copenhagen Trilogy, is a visceral portrait of girlhood and female friendship, told with lyricism and vivid intensity.

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In the morning there was hope. It sat like a fleeting gleam of light in my mother’s smooth black hair that I never dared touch; it lay on my tongue with the sugar and the lukewarm oatmeal I was slowly eating while I looked at my mother’s...

Praise for Childhood

“Tove Ditlevsen’s writing is both engulfing and totally controlled. She knows things about life. But just as important, she has a rare capacity to build from the tragic blocks of her life a perfect and eviscerating story. The greatness of her writing feels like an unsolvable mystery: far away, and up above.” —Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

“Ditlevsen is self-deprecating and effective at conveying the fish-eye view of a child in a claustrophobic environment; she understands that part of the memoirist’s job is to remember how life felt and synthesize it in a way she couldn’t have at the time. . . . Ditlevsen is a master of slow realization, quick characterization, and concise ironies.” —Lauren Oyler, Harper’s

“[The Copenhagen Trilogy] is an absolute tour de force, the final volume in particular. They’re as brilliant as I’d been led to expect, but also surprisingly intense and elegant . . . [Ditlevsen’s writing] is crystal clear and vividly, painfully raw.” —Lucy Scholes, The Paris Review

"Memoir as confession—a powerful, psychologically astute work of self-examination and remembrance." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Readers will find [Ditlevsen's] ruthless self-scrutiny both admirable and shocking." —Margaret Quamme, Booklist

“Mordant, vibrantly confessional . . . A masterpiece.” —Liz Jensen, The Guardian

“The best books I have read this year. These volumes slip in like a stiletto and do their work once inside. Thrilling.” —John Self, Ne… More…

“Tove Ditlevsen’s writing is both engulfing and totally controlled. She knows things about life. But just as important, she has a rare capacity to build from the tragic blocks of her life a perfect and eviscerating story. The greatness of her writing feels like an unsolvable mystery: far away, and up above.” —Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

“Ditlevsen is self-deprecating and effective at conveying the fish-eye view of a child in a claustrophobic environment; she understands that part of the memoirist’s job is to remember how life felt and synthesize it in a way she couldn’t have at the time. . . . Ditlevsen is a master of slow realization, quick characterization, and concise ironies.” —Lauren Oyler, Harper’s

“[The Copenhagen Trilogy] is an absolute tour de force, the final volume in particular. They’re as brilliant as I’d been led to expect, but also surprisingly intense and elegant . . . [Ditlevsen’s writing] is crystal clear and vividly, painfully raw.” —Lucy Scholes, The Paris Review

"Memoir as confession—a powerful, psychologically astute work of self-examination and remembrance." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Readers will find [Ditlevsen's] ruthless self-scrutiny both admirable and shocking." —Margaret Quamme, Booklist

“Mordant, vibrantly confessional . . . A masterpiece.” —Liz Jensen, The Guardian

“The best books I have read this year. These volumes slip in like a stiletto and do their work once inside. Thrilling.” —John Self, New Statesman

“Both [The Copenhagen Trilogy and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels] depict, with first-hand grittiness and luminous subjectivity, bookish girls growing up in working-class districts, whether in 1950s Naples or 1930s Copenhagen. From an artistic viewpoint, Ditlevsen’s work is the more interesting . . . She looks the slimy and intolerable in the eye and burnishes it into cut glass. She’s a writer who, like Jean Rhys, explores the seamy ambiguities of female abjection – with a voice whose power blasts through.” —Lucasta Miller, The Times Literary Supplement

“Astonishing, honest, entirely revealing and, in the end, devastating. Ditlevsen's trilogy is remarkable not only for its honesty and lyricism; these are books that journey deep into the darkest reaches of human experience and return, fatally wounded, but still eloquent.” —Alex Preston, Observer

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Tove Ditlevsen; Translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunnally

Tove Ditlevsen was born in 1917 in a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen. Her first volume of poetry was published when she was in her early twenties and was followed by many more books, including the three volumes of the Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood (1967), Youth (1967), and Dependency (1971). She died in 1976.

Tove Ditlevsen