This is the first volume of a trilogy which marks the high point of outspokenness and originality of one of Norway’s most controversial modern writers. Jens Bjørneboe was an author and polemicist of fierce energy and deep conviction, who throughout his career provoked and upset the establishment by his unrelenting attacks on its most sacred cows: a repressive school system, a hypocritical Christianity, an inhumane prison system, power-seeking politicians, corrupt police and depraved moral guardians – all concentrated in his particular bête noire: the authoritarian personality.
With this trilogy, Bjørneboe turned his attention to a more general problem: the evil inherent in the human race itself. Why, his narrators ask despairingly, does man behave so inhumanely to his fellow creatures? The first volume is set in a middle-European principality, where the narrator is a servant of justice, employed to brush gowns and fill inkwells, and to be daily witness to injustice masquerading as a court of law. The experience sets him off on an odyssey through human experience and his own past, asking what went wrong with mankind.