- dewitt2.jpg -->Les svarene fra nettmøtet med Helen DeWitt. Forfatterens debutroman «Den siste samuraien» har vakt oppsikt i både England og USA.

Se og hør videointervju med forfatteren.
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Les intervju med forfatteren

«Den siste samuraien» forteller historien om en enslig mor og hennes sønn Ludo, som viser seg å være et vidunderbarn. Fem år gammel behersker han gammelgresk og leser Homer. Ludos mest brennende ønske er å finne ut hvem faren er, en informasjon moren ikke vil gi ham.

Rettighetene til romanen er solgt til rundt 15 land. I Time er DeWitt presentert som en fornyer av romansjangeren.

Helen DeWitt er oppvokst i Sør-Amerika, men bor nå i England. Hun besøker Norge og Dagbladet.no i forbindelse med lanseringen av boka.

Publisert onsdag 28.02.2001 kl. 13:58, oppdatert 11:40

Send inn spørsmål til nettmøtet her!


    Hei! Your main character is called Ludo - do you play the game Ludo by any chance? I love the film «Ghost Dog» where Forrest Whittaker plays a samurai - do you the samurai as a hero is a symbol of our time?

Hi! I think I may have played Ludo years ago, as a child, but I wasn't thinking of it when I came up with the name. I thought "Ghost Dog" was brilliant too - I think Whittaker is an extraordinary actor. But I thought the power of the film came from the fact that Whittaker was following a code at odds with the world around him. So I would probably see it as symbolic that the samurai as hero didn't fit.


    Hei Helen. I haven't read your book yet, but I hope to soon. In the interview with Dagbladet you claim Tolkien as your inspiration. But what dos Tokien have in common with Kurosawas Samurai?

Hi May. I don't think there is any connection between Tolkien and Kurosawa. When I was in my teens I loved trying to work out all the different scripts in The Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien had made up himself. The problem is that you can't go on to read something in Elvish, for example. Whereas there really are lots of books in ancient Greek, Japanese and so on. I thought it would be amusing for the reader to have some Greek and Japanese in my book, and it was Tolkien that gave me the idea.

Wonder child

    How did you come to think of the idea of a 5 year old wonder child as the main character in your novel? Do you think literature should represent the fantastic, our dreams, the unrealistic parts of life and fantasy?

I always loved the story about John Stuart Mill being taught Greek at the age of 3 - and ESPECIALLY the fact that Mill was convinced this could easily be done for any child of ordinary ability. I thought it would be entertaining to imagine what it would actually be like to try to do this - and what the results would be. I always love books that have an element of implausibility, I'm not sure why. If a story seems wildly improbable I find it irresistible. I don't know if you know the shoot-out in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - I'm always thrilled to find that level of unrealism in a book.


    Hello Helen Your book is about a boy genius. Are you yourself a child genius, is that why you wrote the book? Do you think child geniuses should be treated differently than "normal" children?

Hello Robert. No, I wasn't a child genius - in fact I seem to remember finding the alphabet deeply mysterious for a long time. But I remember getting horribly bored at school, reading ahead because we weren't doing anything interesting. Should child geniuses be treated differently - probably depends what you mean by "differently". One could say all children should be treated in a way that spared them as much boredom as possible!


    Hei! Hva er ditt forhold til samuraier?

I really only know about samurai from film - which in a way comes down to knowing about what other artists did with them. One thing that interested me was the way the society decreed who was entitled to be courageous - Kurosawa seems to challenge this in Seven Samurai, where the peasants learn to fight and Toshiro Mifune (the seventh samurai) forces his way onto the expedition even though everyone knows he's a fake. I suppose this does seem relevant to life - does one wait for permission to take risks? But of course it's a moral that's directly opposite to the samurai code.

On writing

    I understand you have previously started a few books that never were completed. Are you a perfectionst writer that struggle to find the right expression(Hemingway)? Or are other factors de-railing the process?

Other factors. When I started a book it was always very clear in my mind, so I imagined it could be finished in about six weeks. Gradually it would get interesting and complicated, and impossible to concentrate on properly while (for instance) working in an office. At this point I would always have a new idea for a book that could be written quickly, which I could send to a publisher to get money to go back and finish the interesting, complicated book. Meanwhile the new book would get interesting and complicated... Then I would have an idea for a book that could be written quickly... (You get the general idea.)


    Which is the most important thing for you when writing: Bringing the reader to "another place" through fascinating stories and good writing, or is it the "moral and message" that's more important?

I don't think it's possible to choose - part of what makes a story compelling (for me, anyway) is a sense of moral urgency. I think it might be because you have to feel the characters have something at stake. (For some reason Stefan Zweig's extraordinary book about the compulsiveness of chess comes to mind.)

The most beautiful animal in the world

    Why don't you write more about giraffes?

I am saving giraffes for another book - they need a whole book to themselves.


    Hvor har du hentet informarsjonen til boka fra?
    Kjersti Kvam

Akira Kurosawa, the director of the film Seven Samurai, is interested in the difference between mastering a skill and more profound kinds of knowledge. I thought this would be interesting to explore in connection with a boy who starts out being obsessed with knowledge (Greek, Japanese, aerodynamics (to name but a few)) and doesn't realise this isn't all there is. I did a lot of research on various subjects that came up in the book (astronomy, music, bathyspheres, to name a few more...)

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