Tove Ditlevsen is today celebrated as one of the most important and unique voices in twentieth-century Danish literature, and the Copenhagen Trilogy (1969–71) is her rediscovered masterpiece. Childhood tells the story of a misfit child’s single-minded determination to become a poet; Youth describes her early experiences of sex, work, and independence. In Dependency, the narrator embarks on the first of her four marriages and descends into drug addiction, enabled by her sinister, gaslighting doctor-husband.
Throughout, the narrator grapples with the tension between her vocation as a writer and her competing roles as daughter, wife, mother, and drug addict. Dismissed by the critical establishment in the author’s lifetime, and currently regarded as a literary triumph and spiritual forerunner of today’s autofiction, Ditlevsen’s trilogy is remarkable for its intensity and its immersive exploration of female friendships and family life, the struggles of a young woman to be taken seriously as a writer, and the vicious spiral of substance abuse.