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Utan personligt ansvar by Lena Andersson

”Utan personligt ansvar”, without personal responsibility, is a novel about a relationship that is not a relationship. Five years have passed since Ester Nilsson's romance with Hugo Rask and that experience has not made her cynical. Her new love subject is Olof Sten, an actor and a very ambivalent man. As Olof describes it, t's allright to have a relationship with Ester, as long as it's not called a relationship. Because Olof is married.

Lena Andersson is phenomenal at describing the sublime. A dislocation, an imbalance of power between two people, something that should be unreasonable in the world of love. The theme, as well as the predecessor, is a trespassing of moral boundaries, without personal responsibility. Because in the subjective reality it's impossible to proove Olof feelings or lack there of. And that makes Ester, who loves with all her heart, the weak one.

Much feels like a repetition of the last book. It's the same main character and the same theme. Nevertheless, it's not obsolete, and it's as interesting as before. There's the same naive expectations, imaginary love response and restrained anger, but this time the relationship, which is not a relationship but unsurpricingly very much resembles one in every aspect, is extracted suffering for several years. This time Ester's love want to be with her in a way, but since he is married she doesn't fit into his life.

Both of them are aware of the imbalance of power and the stream of mixed signals seems endless. But Ester fights for a long time and as usual it's the partner most smitten that is the most vulnerable. The prose is philosophical and you can almost hear Lena Andersson's ironical voice. Uncertainty is mixed with short moments of happiness and pain, and Ester, in her philosophical manner, is always ready to interpret the course of events in an optimistic way. 

The intimacy is coming at a high price. It's almost like a financial business. As Ester view it, when Olof is in the possession of capital, he can afford to be an asshole. When his account is empty, he has to spend time with her and appreciate her to be able to make her stay. With occasional symbolic transactions, he compensates for being distant and, first and foremost, married. He feeds on her feelings. When Ester wants more, he received the symbolic capital and becomes uninterested, and when Ester doesn't bother anymore, he is poor and wants to be with her.

Unfortunately, Olof Sten remains an evasive shadow, almost a stranger, throughout the book. Since Ester is a verbal-erotic character, the intellectual conversation between them is necessary and very important to her, should be more prominent. But it might not be enough for the reader to get to know Olof anyway, and be able to understand Ester's feelings, because he is seen through her eyes and love is illogical and blind. Surely, one can be judgmental towards her. But many people probably identify with some of the feelings and some of the behavior, because most people have been in love once.

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