Pamela Moberg

Nobel Prize to Tomas Tranströmer

31 posts in this topic

Thanks, Dirac, for calming troubled waters - really appreciate that.

Just one thing I did not grasp fully - where exactly did "racism" come in and what does it actually mean in this particular context? People can be green or mauve as far as I am concerned - but I do draw the line at boorishness and sheer bad manners, no matter who exhibits them. I actually demand a proper and intelligent explanation as racism could not be further from my way of thinking :mad: This has now taken a turn for the utterly ridiculous.

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The kind words are appreciated, Pamela, although I was rather hoping we had put the digression behind us. :) I'm sure no one participating in this discussion has ill motives or is being intentionally ill-mannered, and I'd like to suggest respectfully that in this instance any such clarifications might be best settled by a PM or two. Thanks to all.

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The Oct. 31 New Yorker has a nice piece on Transtromer by Don Chiasson. Unfortunately it is available on line only to subscribers. Chiasson makes a connection with another poet who was was at the back of my mind as I read the posts on this thread: Robert Frost, a great figure in American poetry during my youth, and one with a wide readership. (Is he still so today?)

... nature poetry, as we know, is usually about culture: what it represses or ignores, or imperils. Sweden in the fifties and sixties thought of itself as an efficient machine for producing salubrious social outcomes: it was a welfare state before welfare states got a bad rap, and it rivaled Switzerland for the highest standard of living in Europe. But the old, weird Sweden was still there, its small churches and wooden saints standing for the vestiges of traditional culture that the new mood had papered over. Transtromer, accustomed to thinking of mental reality as palimpsestic and often lost to itself, was the perfect delegate to that forgotten world:

Here I come, the invisible man, perhaps employed

by a Great Memory to live right now.

And I am driving past

the locked-up white church -- a wooden saint stands

smiling, helpless, as if they had taken away his glasses.

He is alone. Everything else is now, now, now. The law of gravity presses us

against our work by day and against our beds b y night. The war.

In poems like this, the manner is so well matched to the subject matter that it almost seems part of it, just as Robert Frost's Yankee flintiness seemed to spring from the same rocky crags it described. It is not surprising, then, that Transtromer's popularity in Sweden is often compared to Frost's at its height here.

Is Frost's work known in Sweden, Pamela? Have people in Sweden commented on the similarities between the two?

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Sometimes a Nobel is given to someone for work done in earlier years when lucid and productive, but in the present day, the same person could suffer from dementia or a mental illness that has become worse over time. I have compassion because my own grandfather was deeply manic depressive. He was a wonderful man in so many ways, and loved us dearly - and we loved him. He had a brilliant mind, and he also had episodes that would try the patience of Job. Madness and genius are often twins in the brain.

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No, Bart, I am afraid that Robert Frost is not a household name in Sweden. Nor is Tranströmer, come to that. Sad to say, here people in general - if they read at all - are more into Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell and Camilla Läckberg et al. Anyway, the aforementioned writers' work are are all turned into movie scripts and TV series. Nothing wrong with that, it provides entertainment for the masses, that also has a place in society. :off topic: And there is also the financial situation, nobody dares to do anything that is considered "difficult". Swedish TV always has a big drama series for Christmas, this year it will be the memoirs of a drug dealer/prostitute/jailbird. Yes, I am in it - must make some cash somehow :blushing: but I am sure it will get a very large viewing. Cant imagine that going on worldwide distribution, so you will all be spared the sight of moi :speechless-smiley-003:

It is a very sad fact that when it comes to culture, it boils down to hard cash. As there are only 8 million people in the country and hardly anybody abroad studies Swedish; say for example a volume of poetry might sell a thousand copies which does not even cover costs. Tranströmer has sparked an interest as a laureate and will be translated into other languages, and sell reasonably well, but that is an exception, otherwise publishing houses have to rely on stuff like Girl with the dragon tattoo to keep afloat.

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No, Bart, I am afraid that Robert Frost is not a household name in Sweden. Nor is Tranströmer, come to that. Sad to say, here people in general - if they read at all - are more into Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell and Camilla Läckberg et al. Anyway, the aforementioned writers' work are are all turned into movie scripts and TV series. Nothing wrong with that, it provides entertainment for the masses, that also has a place in society. :off topic: And there is also the financial situation, nobody dares to do anything that is considered "difficult". Swedish TV always has a big drama series for Christmas, this year it will be the memoirs of a drug dealer/prostitute/jailbird. Yes, I am in it - must make some cash somehow :blushing: but I am sure it will get a very large viewing. Cant imagine that going on worldwide distribution, so you will all be spared the sight of moi :speechless-smiley-003:

It is a very sad fact that when it comes to culture, it boils down to hard cash. As there are only 8 million people in the country and hardly anybody abroad studies Swedish; say for example a volume of poetry might sell a thousand copies which does not even cover costs. Tranströmer has sparked an interest as a laureate and will be translated into other languages, and sell reasonably well, but that is an exception, otherwise publishing houses have to rely on stuff like Girl with the dragon tattoo to keep afloat.

Mutatis Mutandis, I don't think Sweden is alone in this respect...

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