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This is a novel of the future profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror Ironic and detached the author shows us the totalitarian World state through the eyes of a product of that state scientist Leo Kall Kall has invented a drug kallocain which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a happy healthy cell in the state organism For says Leo from thoughts and feelings words and actions are born How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn't the whole fellow soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then if not to the state?As the first person record of Leo Kall scientist fellow soldier too late disillusioned to undo his previous actions Kallocain achieves a chilling power and veracity that place it among the finest novels to emerge from the strife torn Europe of the twentieth century


10 thoughts on “Kallocain

  1. says:

    I don't know how famous Kallocain or Karin Boye are outside Sweden but she's pretty much one of our most renowned authors I actually read this book back in 2007 but today at the flea market I just so happened upon a FREAKIN' ORIGINAL COPY FROM 1940 AND BOUGHT IT FOR FIVE FREAKIN' CROWNS IT'S AMAZING AND SO FRAGILE AND THE PAGES A BLOODY HAND CUT AND I LOVE IIITAhemExcuse me for thatSo anyway Kallocain is a dystopian part scifi about the chemist Leo Kall who invents the first ever truth serum Kallocain and thereby unlocks doors that were supposed to stay shut Packed full with social criticism I think Boye does a good job of building up a world where the biggest problem isn't so much the state but the mental walls that keep the people from each otherMy favourite parts are undoubtedly the ones where Kallocain is used Miss Boye does a FANTASTIC job of portraying people under the influence of truth serum – especially since it’s such a massive contrast to how guarded they usually are It's almost frightening to read how they can't keep ANYTHING hidden The book as far as I remember is completely devoid of sexual or violent content that could be considered morbid but the thing is it doesn't need that It is raw and real without the shock valueOver the last year or so I've come to almost despise the literary and cinematic culture in my country the Ingmar Bergmanification word? It is now the hatred for escapism; the inability to create anything that isn't dark sad and depressing But while Kallocain is written in much the same spirit it couldn't have been done any other way It is one of the first and best examples of Swedish literature and for all you dystopian fans out there I think it’s a must read


  2. says:

    This poetic and moving novel deserves to be remembered in the same breath as We 1984 Brave New World and other great twentieth century dystopias Leo Kall is a scientist who employs chemistry in the service of the oppressive Worldstate He develops kallocain a drug that exposes the private thoughts of his fellow soldiers thus paving the way for the Worldstate to ensure that either each individual becomes a happy healthy cell in the state organism or heshe is eliminated To uote Leo's thoughts from thoughts and feelings words and actions are born How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn't the whole fellow soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then if not to the state?Kall expects his discovery will be his triumph his great gift for the common good but instead it proves to be the instrument of his disillusionment with the Worldstate Swedish poet and author Karin Boye describes Kall's awakening as an individual in the most poignant and believable of terms and in so doing she creates a powerful indictment of collectivism no doubt informed by her observations of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union The novel is all the powerful when one realizes that she committed suicide not long after its publication I thoroughly enjoyed Gustaf Lannestock's lyrical translation and I highly recommend this beautiful book Like all of the great dystopian works it continues to have much to say to us todayA longer review is part of my discussion of novels eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugo Award in Looking Back on Genre History on Episode 423 of StarShipSofa


  3. says:

    Political dystopias found their form in the first half of the 20th century with books like Zamyatin's We Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four as the big three Karin Boye's Kallocain 1940 deserves to be mentioned in the same context It's certainly at least as good and its central message that fear hatred and paranoia demands a conscious effort which cannot be sustained forever certainly hopeful as bleak as the novel and its author's untimely end isThe setting will be familiar to anyone who's read either of the others; a totalitarian state officially named The World State even though there are hints that there are other states and occasional wars sometime in the 21st century where the government controls everything Children are raised by the state and separated from their parents for good when they hit puberty every aspect of life is rationalised standardised and specialised with no free will at all everyone is taught that they exist solely to serve the state and it goes without saying that the police have spy cameras and microphones everywhere Except in people's minds obviouslyThat is until the chemist Leo Kall stumbles across a new chemical compound which he names after himself and which proves to be a perfect truth serum Kallocain works a little like alcohol he speculates alcohol of course was banned several generations ago; rather than force people to tell the truth it simply makes them want to stop lying Shoot them up and they relax smile and tell you everything that they've been trying to keep hidden Perfect for convicting criminals he thinks except pretty soon it becomes obvious that it can do so much Suddenly the state can prosecute people for their thoughts and Kall is expected to help but what if it turns out that the worst threat to a totalitarian government isn't a few isolated pockets of convinced political dissidents but simply people being people telling stories and listening to music you can't even march to? And what does it mean for his own marriage to a wife he can't help but suspect of being disloyal to him in itself of course a crime since they're both supposed to be loyal only to the state? What is this word soul he keeps hearing the suspects mention which doesn't seem to serve any purpose at all? Kallocain clearly owes a lot to Huxley it predates Orwell's book by several years but in a way it's a very different animal Boye was first and foremost a poet and that sensibility shows in her SF writing even though the narrator Kall is a pretty cold fish at first She largely stays away from the big political uestions; they're there definitely and we find out enough about the world Kall lives in to understand it but the focus is still on personal politics; about what living under constant pressure to be uiet lie and serve others does to people It's tempting of course to read it not only in a 1940s context trapped in a world of totalitarian thinking that created both Stalin and Hitler and the people fighting them and the big war just starting to gather steam but also in relation to Boye's personal life; as a lesbian she faced a very real risk of getting thrown in jail simply for existing and it's uite likely that that pressure led to her suicide a year after Kallocain came out But even so 70 years later there's something in Kallocain that manages to make it positively uplifting Because what the smiles on the faces of the victims say as they incriminate themselves is this is not us We are human beings we are fucked up and not always good but as long as it takes a conscious effort to suppress ourselves we can never be automatons in the long runETA 160625 Det finns en strålande anpassning för radioteater från 1966 på Sveriges Radios sida Gunnar Björnstrand Erland Josephson


  4. says:

    In vino veritasAccording to roman historian Tacitus some Germanic peoples counseled only while drinking wine because they believed that the drunk always speak trueWine is no longer necessary to loosen one's tongue since Leo Kall developed the drug called Kallocain Kall is a chemist and the narrator of this story He is living in Chemistrytown #4 in a nation called Worldstate Like everyone else he is a fellow soldier and his work and after hours are filled with duties for the state He is married with three children and they are living in a small apartment Camera and microphones called police eyes and ears are installed in every room Kall is actually a rather mediocre citizen until he finds the formula for this new drug When administered Kallocain forces people to answer each uestion truthfully and to reveal their feelings and thoughts to the interrogators This comes in uite handy for the state because From thoughts and feelings words and actions are born How is it possible that thoughts and feelings are the private property of the individual? Does not the whole fellow soldier belong to the state? To whom do his thoughts and feelings belong if not the state? Until today there was just no way to control them – but now the agent is foundtranslated by me The dystopian world or utopian depending from where you look at it is impressively portrayed The author was clever enough not to overload the story with too much technical stuff that is either incomprehensible or has become outdated already The story focuses on the main character his psyche and its immediate surroundings From the first page the reader knows that Kall is serving a long sentence and he tells his story from prison One of the uestions is why The answer is not revealed until the very end and it was not what I thought it was And then there is some kind of afterword that gives the book an additional and unexpected twist This finally gave the book its fourth starThe book was written in 1940 so it lies right in the middle between Huxley's Brave new world and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four I would argue that Kallocain is neither much better or worse than these two works The reason this book is not so well known is probably because a it's from a Swedish author and b it's from a female author Both of these reasons are no reason at all to avoid the book I admit I had some problems with the prose Some parts in the middle seem a little rigidly and awkward But that's probably just the German translation I read Recommended


  5. says:

    270315 bleak believable banal beautiful best dystopia of which i had never heard written by a woman poet some reviews characterize Kallocain 1940 as kind of a Swedish 19841948 or Brave New World 1932 but i suggest the lineage fruitfully explored is We by Zamyatin 1921 this is a lyrical poetic rather mundane world without either the melodramatic oppression the great names the obvious powers of orwell's book ministry of truth thought police etc or the conspiracy of intellectual powers seductive technology behaviourism of BNW this world this worldstate seems plausible human philosophical partly because there is no big reveal no real identifiable irresistible powers only surveillance informing group psychology personal ambitions and emotions radically redirected to the worldstate when the narrator is less than heroic when his truth is often revealed accidentally rather than confessed and the truth of love is the final private sense of humanity when this goes under to the power of kallocain truth serum are we human any?300619 decided to sum up several dystopian works read in this review add others later200519 1984 ok so it is time to read this again i will find it in french just read web article on guardian about continuing relevancechanged relevance of book in our world i remember popular version of ‘real’ 1984 think i saw movie 1984 that year 2017 is impossible to imagine from ‘real’ 1984 as much as ‘real’ 19489 when book 1984 was writtenpublishedi mention ‘brave new world’ in review but that does not have the same hold on my memories too much your tech science culture is bad our knowledge special stupid people everyone else need leaders us we are smart thus worthwhile we have culture yours is shit etc and if you are woman you are slut stupid simple and should be nowhere near thought of give her o toys clothes fun etc she is happy and then plotlost boy discovers he is actually prince mistaken for lesser when he is real smart savagery ok that is how to be real and read shakespeare dammit all else ever written anywhere by anyone else is just not worthwhile ok just my early impression‘animal farm’ is parable once you know horsethis pigthis etc there is only argument about how accurate are the impressions‘we’ is beautiful that is one problem probably why i love it but also too abstract for most readers and then translated as ‘well doer’ or ‘benefactor’ well which is it? so i read this later at u cynical about politicsart vs politics but still really loved gatsby bc he seemed to have personal meaning but this somewhat obscure difficult poetic book written in 20s? by somebody in what some other language no red blooded etc not in cold war anyway would read no it is not global read western? phenom‘handmaid’s tale’ bothers me bc i am young man think young man thought think women etc possible that there would be in 1984 such retrogressive men who would what do this imprison rape kill etc to women? no too much feminist paranoia impossible not now 1984 not in near future not in 2017 alabama where men love women so much they will never let little woman kill little clump of tissue fetus is baby unless said clump is going to kill her so i am wrong but see ther’s this miniseries that only those elitist intelligent leftists watch wins awards makes money and and then there’s this blonde captain someone and just last year wonder someone and and alabama well hey there’s this movie in it so maybe handmaid’s will become global phenomthere are too many other bad places dys? i have read since 1984 but yet to find eual so it is somewhere i like to visit at least in writing but no i do not want to live there i have aa dystopia bookshelf full of them not many ya but this is the book i will always remember1984 ??? childhood another favorite i have neglected to place i read this first when i was 121314 or something an old hardback at home about the same time as great gatsby i have read this at least 3 times so an interesting intro to literature of ideas something particularly bleak the vision of switching enemies getting your hate on of power for sake of power the essay on new english made me cognizant of the power of words to distort or even create realities so many ideographic terms from thought police to big brother insures this will never become dated even now after 1984 hard to believe it has given a name to so called reality tv i have to be aware of the power of media only just becoming apparent at the time written brave new world is the one to read for that??? 1980s? i read ‘brave new world’ much later than Orwell’s 1984 adolescent first ‘adult’ book and what bothered me then still bothers me on this second or third reading this is that the book suggests a value conflict between science and art in politics and gendered relationships with the few women being represented as empty headed smiling greedy sensual addicts rather than thoughtful mature sensible as men aargh not very advanced conceptually there even if it is of its time very good elaboration of our misuse of technology in empty amusement but the idea we need suffering to create art of any conseuence maybe great art yes certainly miserable lives the idea we can condition humans to fit determined roles existentialist in me rebels at this line of thought this suggestion humans are entirely determined that of course we will recognize natural leaders in those who have any sense of art of Shakespeare culturally blinkered eurocentrism all seem curiously naive and uaint after the horrors of mechanical warfare the horrors of genocide


  6. says:

    The book is set in a future dystopian totalitarian world state after a World War The government surveillance with eyes and ears reaches everywhere Even the maids are bound to report every week about the family at which they work The main protagonist Leo Kall is a dutiful citizen accepting the rules of the society He even invents a truth serum Kallocain to increase the government's control over the people making the world state the owner of not only the peoples' identities but also their souls because the truth serum reveals their inner most intimate emotionsKarin Boye wrote Kallocain during the second World War just months before committing suicide The oppression and government abuse are choking and frightening as well as believable Since there was a fear among the Swedish people of a German invasion the theme of the book has been connected to the Third Reich But having been a socialist Boye after visiting the Soviet union had began to crumble in her political conviction especially when it came to the restricted individual freedom of the people As much as the world state resembles a nazi society it also resembles a communist era The people live in small apartments all identical and they call each other fellow soldier not so unlike the Soviet's ”kamrat” comrade There are no economic class divisions and there is a kind of human euality but only in the indiscriminating way that noone has a value A human life is worth nothing than being a cog in the machine Individualism is strictly forbidden and seen as a crime and threat to the nation as the biggest purpose is to serve the world state Kall is a scientist and contributes to the state through his Kallocain experiments on people from a voluntary service where they sacrificing themselves for ”the greater good” a unit one can enter but never leaveSince individualism is forbidden and private emotions are viewed as selfish dangerous thoughts the society is built upon mistrust and suspicion a foundation necessary for the existence of the world state For every private gathering witnesses are needed to be able to prove one's innocence if faced with an accusation There is no term as ”innocent until proven guilty”There is a biblical theme in the book The mysterious myth about the hero Reor that didn't care about witnesses and protection but simply trusted his fellow citizens and thereby reached a freedom of mind something he had to pay for Parallels can be drawn to Jesus and his role of sacrifice The people believing in this myth and trustful way of behavior were seen as strange and dangerous Like a religion there were no certificate to be a member no head of the organization not even an organization Not being able to control such a people the ruthless state had to defend itselfWhen no one can be trusted the only way to feel safe is power but power is only an illusion since it doesn't take away the small voice inside one's soul Kall received the kind of power he thought he needed through his invention It's interesting how far a person is prepared to go to defend his structured safety imagined every day life The clear eyed openminded character Rissen served as Kall's suppressed conscience which explains Kall's split feelings towards him mostly fear and loathing due to the dangerous risk of rebellious thoughts in his mind which could jeopardize his safety especially with Kallocain in productionKallocain is a uniue Swedish novel about ten years ahead of George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 More than seventy years old it's still of importance considering the present discussions of the FRA surveillance in Sweden and even on an international scale considering Wikileaks and the information revealed by Julian Assange Further it shows how easy a man and eventually a whole society can be controlled by fear and mistrust It also awakes the important prospect that a society consists of people like an organism consists of cells Every cell is needed and every man can make a difference He has to decide for himself who he wants to be and dare to fight for it


  7. says:

    Leo Kall wakes up one morning to read the newspaper and the headlines say Thoughts Can be Judged Well Leo already knows this having invented a drug which he named after himself Kallocain Early in his career as a scientist for the Worldstate a totalitarian regime Kall realized that when people become intoxicated they tend to spill their guts to total strangers Working from that idea he develops Kallocain and after a few subjects from the Voluntary Sacrificial Service are injected with the drug and uestioned as to their loyalty or knowledge of treasonous plots Kall realizes this drug could be a great weapon in securing the state Anyone with thoughts judged to be against the state could be put into prison or put to death eliminate any possible threats Kall saw himself as climbing a staircase of achievement and this was how he was planning to get to the next levelHowever what he doesn't understand until it's too late is that underneath everyone's allegiance to the Worldstate and their willingness to do their duties to support the state without uestion no matter what that there are many people who dream of something different Kallocain is a wonderful book although at times it is really difficult to slog through probably because of its translation from Swedish Written in 1940 prior to Orwell's 1984 it is a bleak vision of man's future in which a person's inner thoughts may be all that he or she has left to identify them as an individual I recommend this one to anyone interested in this topic It's not always an easy read but well worth it in the end


  8. says:

    You know the feeling when you read something you know is good I mean not just because others have told you so but because you can actually feel it when you read the book? You read on and you still get the feeling that this is a good bookand yet you don't particularly care for it This was such a book for me I can understand why it's a classic well known and I'm glad that I've read it But still my feelings for it are no than lukewarm


  9. says:

    I don't usually write reviews but this book just made me go for itIt is impressive to realize how a book written in 1940 can bring to light some of the most complex ethical discussions some of those still remaining pretty present nowadays Also relevant to note that some of the controversial issues are related to the scientific progression almost serving as a real prediction for the worldwide reflections that came up after the first attacks using nuclear weapons 1945The book also served as an inspiration for some of the best known distopies but unfortunately did not even get half of the status and public attentionIf I had a Top 10 Most Underrated Books list this would be part of the header


  10. says:

    A brilliant dystopian novel set between We and 1984 and A brave new world However Boye's perception is far narrowed than aforementioned books and her point of view focuses on the inventor of the drug that makes thought privacy almost impossible What starts off as an ideological view of the world it decimates uickly to the dystopian nightmare With lyrical prose and a controlled narration Boye's world seems awfully familiar with all the censorship that once was and has always existed in the world in one form or the other A brilliant little book that rarely ever shows up in lists that include We 1984 A brave new world etc I wonder why