Sixth novel by author Sture Dahlström first published in 1977.
The composer genius Bergman-Wasa travels the world making a living writing national anthems for newly created states. He collects old x-ray machines since he likes to seduce women inside them. He takes over a peacock farm, where the birds multiply so fast he runs the risk of getting choked by them. To stop air planes flying over his farm he builds a replica of a Roman sling, using the peacocks as ammunition.
He also buys an old hospital that turns out to have an attic full of forgotten old age people. Throughout the novel he seduces women as well as is seduced by them.
First few paragraphs from the book in my own Swedish to English translation:
I light another match, hold it against the yellow sheets of paper and throw them out of the train window one by one. The faint light on my hat, the burning paper in my hand, the train that curves into the sixth of August. Burn the devil out of you sheets of paper and see you sink and die in the spark blown sand along the rails and it rains outside.
"You'd better be careful with the fire so you don't burn down the entire forest." Voices. Always voices.
Twenty kilos of music executed so far. The tenors are left and the basses and the choruses. The snakes will eat you tonight, choruses.
"Stop that burning now, that's fucking dangerous."
My fellow countrymen. Their anxious china hands and ivory craniums, their nervous black shoes and stiff hair. Better smile towards them to calm them down.
"An opera has to burn three times before it's purified. What is left after the third purification is music. The truth."
They won't listen.
Mozart. You were right when you wrote that a composer must live his life in celibacy. Like a god. Shut out lust and listlessness. Keep to oneself and listen to one's soul.
"Get the conductor somebody!"
"The conductor is sleeping, gentlemen. The engineer is lying flat on his back far away in the front. Puccini is asleep, Wagner is asleep, Rossini is asleep and has hidden in my suitcase. Mozart is asleep cold and flat and folded in my red pyjama. Everybody is asl..."
"Shut the fuck up, will you?"
"Everybody sleeps except for me. I am dead. Dead but going towards resurrection. I sink slowly through the years towards the bottom of the church yard where the river's invisible grave floor cleansing arms will find me in the end and gently take me out into the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic to New York. A new life will begin, gentlemen, a new and better life."
"Funking drunks on the trains nowadays. Just throw the bastard off."
"New York. I'm on my way to New York. Soon I won't have to look at you anymore, you fucking ass holes."
"Is there a police officer on the train? This man is drunk."
"As soon as somebody says something you haven't heard before he's drunk. This is probably the first time in you life you meet a composer. A composer! What do you know about music? What do you know about me and my creative life? Nothing. What do you know about my background and my parents? Can you see their small faces following me outside the windows? Of course not. But I see them, see their circling hands where they lie side by side like little piles under the sugar sack sheets, wrapped and fumbling and worried."
"Does anybody understand what he's talking about?"
"They can be dead when I return from America. The grave with the old withered wreaths, hymns that disappear along the hill sides, their..."
"Their tired voices raising and sinking, their dead, clay blue, grave breaking thoughts locked away and forgotten..."
"Give him a drink so he shuts up!"
"Look at them. Lord look at their terrifyingly drunk faces and irrelevant hands. Look at them and forget them and concentrate on me. All my life I have worked for your glory, built truth and beauty in your honour, filled your altar with holy music. In your honour I have burnt eight operas. Who – except for me – burns operas for your enjoyment? Nobody. They have burnt lambs and calves, even humans, but you have never seen anybody sacrifice music before."
The compartment is full of angry white faces. The cannot open their mouths anymore. Their lips are glued tight by hate and evil, the words growing and swelling in their mouths – if they don't let them out their teeth will melt and trickle out through their nostrils like liquid caries.
Bergman stands up and shouts: "When I sacrifice I sacrifice abundantly, it's in my nature. You know what kind of man I am. Think about it, Lord. I am chosen. A man who creates spirit where there is nothing but dead matter and materialism, a valuable citizen in society's service, a citizen whose iron shadow will rest heavily on the history of our country."
An older couple leaves the compartment backwards, a woman reaches for her bag. Soon I am rid of them.
"Only the extremely sensible understand me, only the once with double souls can benefit from my music."
After this episode Bergman-Wasa moves on through the compartments. He squeezes into a crowded one and ends up beside a beatuful, strictly dressed, sleeping woman. In the curves she subconsciously presses her strong athletic leg against his, and he can't help himself from starting to seduce her. He works his hand slowly up between her legs while she slides further and further down on the seat.
By this start the two ambitions of Bergman-Wasa is out in the public. To make sure that his music reaches absolutely everybody, and to conquer all women in the entire world. Not a bad ambition...