Seven Minds

Dear Mirjam Ågård I have just finished reading Leap and I can’t help but write to you. This book has meant so much to me! I have read it three times. It must be so exciting to live like you do – –
She heard a noise from the office and turned around. Sylvia Plath was looking down from the poster on the wall: – That’s how it is! You think things are a little better, you think the worst has passed – and then when everything has fallen asleep around you, when everything seems to be back to normal, something happens. And you get up and go into the kitchen –
Joan Armatrading joined in: – You had children! You had a mother!
Sylvia contemplated the sturdy figure with her slanted look: – I didn’t have myself.
Joan looked as if she wanted to say something more. Then she turned to the microphone again and stroke a chord: – One touch from your fingers and I’m burnin’ –
– in London It’s freezing cold this winter. Electricity is disconnected, Sylvia whispered.
– And I can’t seem to put out the fire –
A box of matches was sitting in the windowsill. Mirjam lid a match. The flame, yellow and beautiful, was faintly reflected in the windowpane. Closest to the wood it was blue and softly sizzling.
She carried the newspaper out into the kitchen and carefully put it in the sink. Then she lid another match and observed the embers devouring their way through the layers of paper, transforming them into smoking black flakes. She remembered the other newspaper, the one she had hurled into the wall yesterday, she went to get it. It burned even better.
Sylvia was right: it was freezing. She shuddered in her thin blouse, as she removed the thumbtacks from all four corners of the Photostat. Sylvia looked at her with concern, while her little smile burned into ashes.
The smoke made her eyes water, Mirjam coughed, opened a window. She went into the living room and found Ida’s records, looked at the laughing face on the cover. Then she squatted in front of the coffee table with the research material about the women’s island.
She took a pile of papers and smoothed them cautiously. Then she tore them in half in the middle and again lengthwise. Grabbed hold of the manuscript itself.
Slowly one sheet at the time to prevent the flames from getting too big, she watched the script turning into ashes. It burned well. She fed the embers in the kitchen sink sheet by sheet, the wall behind getting blackened by soot. The white, green and pink sheets of paper grew darker than the stripes of text crossing them. She just about had the time to pour water on the embers before she collapsed in her bed, soaking in her own cold sweat.
Seven Minds, p. 232-233

The press wrote …

Mette Starch, Information, November 18th 1980:

With Seven Minds Bente Clod has composed a novel that will go into the history of literature as a prime example of the books following in the wake of the Women’s lib movement. If history treats us with kindness that is!
Seven entirely different people, entirely ordinary women, who have more or less at random found each other in a group. They have shared in each others’ pleasures and especially problems, but have never succeeded in coping with fundamental anxiety. For life, the others and each other …
Regarding style as well as content […] Seven Minds is a novel in the best traditional sense of the word: the characters are well-drawn and carry the narrative of the book …
Seven Minds demonstrates that Bente Clod will keep herself floating even without being carried by this flood.

Lene Bredsdorff, Politiken, October 17th 1980:

Here is a novel experimenting with itself and its own coming into existence, and here we find the distance and recreation of the private life necessary for the book to be more than a manual, for it to become literature. […] The strength in Bente Clod’s writing is the way she fiercely makes a hidden women’s world visible. She writes empathically well. […] The ritualistic murder of the island book resembles a similar one in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. […] Mirjam makes it back to her typewriter – ready to write afresh.

Bris (male critic) in BT, October 17th 1980:

This book is a tempest – go on read it, you, menfolk.

Poul Borum, Ekstra Bladet, November 1980:

The problem with Bente Clod is that she can write […] Seven Minds is nerve-rackingly annoying by its righteousness as well as its despair. At the same time you cannot help but to read it with admiration and a certain exaltation. Yet it is written whizzingly well, much better than her success Ruptures

Synnöve Clason, Svenska Dagbladet, (Sweden) November 5th 1981:

Seven Minds in a way is the novel about a novel. The chapters of Mirjam’s book are shared with the reader one at the time. This forms a counterpoint to the dominating frame story and thematically implies an alternative …

Immi Lundin, Aftonbladet (Swedish Newspaper) November 5th 1981:

The way in which she depicts women’s work, friendship and love truly demonstrates how she herself and the women’s lib movement are in real motion, in everyday life towards the future.

Seven Minds was published in German in 1983. Under the headline Der Roman aus der Frauenbewegung, the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung brought a lengthy, positive review by Ulrike Höfmann, February 17th 1983:

Bente Clod has long made a name for herself as a feminist writer in Denmark. In this country she is barely known. After this first, excellent translation of her most important book, one can only hope that more works by this author will be made available in German.
… But the episodes of Mirjam’s life are not merely realistically narrated. Bente Clod knits artfully with a significant variety of forms: with classic patterns of narration and several deviations through stocking stitches to the right and to the left from the storyline about Mirjam and the women’s group. Crossed in a sophisticated pattern – also visible with embossed letters, threaded into the literary works of Bente Clod’s character Mirjam: The Island Book. Mirjam’s fantasy, her Utopia on the Women’s island. The women’s group Seven Minds, the author Mirjam – Bente Clod as Mirjam, Seven Minds as the roman à clef of the women’s rights movement in Copenhagen? And the Island Book: all the stories delightfully woven into each other and it is lots of fun to read and unravel them.