The Tennis Players

by Lars Gustafsson

The scene: Austin, Texas, 1974. A Visiting Professor of Swedish Literature at the University of Texas, quite uncoincidentally named Lars Gustafsson, is teaching a seminar in nineteenth-century European thought and quietly perfecting his game of tennis. His serenity is tested by a sudden series of bizarre events that turns The Tennis Players into a delightful romp through modern-day academe. A previously unknown Memoires d’une chimiste, written by a Polish exile, proves to be a key to August Strindberg’s famed “Inferno Crisis” of 1894-96, when the Swedish master suffered from severe delusions. Could it really be true that he was in fact the victim of an anarchist conspiracy?—even paranoids, after all, have real enemies—and Strindberg criticism threatens to be blown apart, not to mention the entire national defense, when an enterprising programmer manages to feed Strindberg’s Inferno and Pietziewzskozsky’s Memoires into the Early Warning System’s computer to see if the two works do indeed correspond. Meanwhile, the campus of the University of Texas is on the verge of a new wave of riots pending the high-handed cancellation of a student production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold in favor of Verdi’s Aida, complete with elephants. Lars Gustafsson is one of Sweden’s leading men of letters. The Tennis Players is his second novel to be published in English. Of the more reflective The Death of a Beekeeper (1981), John Updike commented in The New Yorker, “it is a beautiful work, lyrical and bleak, resonant and terse.”

Paperback(published May, 01 1983)

Portrait of Lars Gustafsson

Lars Gustafsson

Contemporary Swedish novelist, story-writer, poet, critic and professor.