The Condition of Secrecy
Nonfiction by Inger Christensen
The Condition of Secrecy is a poignant collection of essays by Inger Christensen, widely regarded as one of the most influential Scandinavian writers of the twentieth century. As the New York Times proclaimed, “Despite the rigorous structure that undergirds her work—or more likely, because of it—Ms. Christensen’s style was lyrical, even playful.” The same could be said of Christensen’s essays. Here, she formulates with electric clarity the basis of her approach to writing, and provides insights into how she composed her poetry. Some essays are autobiographical (with memories of Christensen’s school years during the Nazi occupation of Denmark), and others are political, touching on the Cold War and Chernobyl. The Condition of Secrecy also covers the Ars Poetica of Lu Chi (261–303 CE), William Blake and Isaac Newton, and such topics as randomness as a universal force and the role of the writer as an agent of social change. The Condition of Secrecy confirms that Inger Christensen is “a true singer of the syllables” (C. D. Wright), as well as a “a formalist who makes her own rules, then turns the game around with another rule” (Eliot Weinberger).