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Nobel Prize to Tomas Tranströmer


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#1 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:46 AM

At 1 p.m. (Swedish time) the Swedish Academy announced the name of the recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. It goes to the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.
:clapping: and I think everybody in this country will join me in the applause. Mr. Tranströmer is 80 years old and suffered a stroke some years ago, since then he has speech difficulties, but there is nothing wrong with his brain capacity. He is a much loved poet - translated into more than 50 languages - and very easy to read. I really do recommend him!

But weird things happen. I saw the live broadcast from the Swedish Academy as it was announced. Yet, a few minutes before switching on the TV, I read the Guardian
(which is a highly respected newspaper) and they said that the prize would go to Serbian writer Dobrica Cosic. I do not claim that I know of every author on this planet, but the name was completely new to me. There was even a link to Nobelprize org. which I clicked and they said the same thing :helpsmilie: Now what is going on? Was Nobelprize org. hacked by someone or what? Very weird.

At any rate, we cannot doubt the live broadcast and the speech made by the constant secretary, Mr. Peter Englund. As for myself, I am very pleased and happy. That was all for now from your special Nobel reporter.

#2 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:01 PM

Yes, there was some prankster about posting that "news" about the Serbian author. Nobody has owned up yet, though.
The Swedish papers and blogs are full of comments, 99% in favor. One foreign paper (as yet anonymous) had it that the prize had been awarded to - wait for it -
Tomas Transformer :speechless-smiley-003:

#3 bart

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 04:06 PM

It seems that Cosic is the "Father" of Serbian Nationalism, and an ond-and-off supporter of some of its more unsavory. aspects during the past couple of decades. He is, however, a writer. I wonder whether the hoax was carried out by a fan or an opponent.

Pamela, can you give us an idea of the kind of poetry Transtromer writes?

To be well-known and much-loved in one's own country and to be translated into 50 languages is quite an achievement. I'll bet I am not the only non-Swede who is a bit embarrassed not to have heard of him before now.

Here's the NY Times story. It's fascinating, but has no examples of his work. That will come, I'm sure.
http://www.nytimes.c...?_r=1&ref=books

#4 Jayne

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:09 AM

for a while, my book club was trying to read a book from Nobel, Pulitzer and Booker prize winners, but we all felt so depressed and had to shift gears to lighter fare. Still, it's nice to see a poet win the Nobel for literature, as it's been 15 years.

I'm expecting a middle eastern winner for the Peace prize, due to the Arab Spring. However, nominations are due in February, with the announcement in October. So I anticipate one of the early Arab Spring countries to produce a winner, perhaps Tunisia.

#5 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 07:47 AM

Yes, Jayne, your hopes are at least partly fulfilled. This morning Norway announced the recipients of the Peace Prize. It is Norway that awards the Peace, whereas Sweden awards the rest. I think I have explained this before: When these prize givings started in the beginning of last century, Sweden and Norway were one country.
"The land of the brothers" it was called, partition was in 1905, and since then there are two separate countries, but they share the Nobel Prizes this way.
Anyway, recipients of Peace Prize to be divided equally between the following three ladies:
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia
Tawakul Karman of Yemen.

Bart: have some stuff to attend to now, but hope I will be able to return this evening and say something about Tranströmer's poems.

#6 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:01 PM

Bart, I am working on the translation of a poem :smilie_mondieu: well, maybe tomorrow. It is my absolute favorite so I want to do it justice, but I know I will never be able to.
In the meantime, here is an aphorism by Tranströmer: It is called "Two truths".

"Two truths approach each other
One comes from within
one comes from the outside
And where they meet one has a chance to see oneself".

Well, something to think about---

#7 dirac

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 11:12 PM

Thank you for posting the news and these details, Pamela. Never heard of him, but I trust he's deserving.

#8 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 10:59 AM

Here is the poem I wanted to share with you- translation is mine, apologize for its clumsiness. I have tried to evoke the feeling for nature. Hope you will be able to get at least some sense of that.

"Swedish abodes in solitary places." From “Secrets on the road” 1958.

A tangle of black fir trees and smoking moonbeams.
Here the cottage lies sunken
and it seems without life.
Until the morning dew murmurs and an old man opens - with trembling hand -
the window and lets out an owl.
And in another direction the estate is steaming with butterflies
of laundry sheets flapping by the corner
in the middle of a dying forest where the decay is read through glasses of sap,
the protocol of the bark beetles.
Summer with flaxen rain
or a single thunder cloud
over a barking dog.
The seed is kicking in the soil.
Excited voices. Faces flying in the telephone wires
on stunted quick wings
over the miles of marshland-
The house on an island in the river
brooding its foundations.
A constant smoke – the secret papers of the forest are burning.
The rain turns in heaven. The light meanders in the river.
The house on the slope watches over the white oxen of the waterfall.
Autumn, with a gang of starlings
keeping the dawn in check.
The people move stiffly
on the stage of the lamplight.
Let them feel without anxiety
the camouflaged wings
and the energy of God
rolled up in the dark.

#9 bart

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 12:15 PM

Thank you so much, Pamela. I confess to being a sucker for those Scandinavian movies involving solitary houses, deserted landscapes, and one or two silent people moving slowly. An endless buildup to a climax that never comes.

But this "solitary place" is crammed with activity. A kind of rural Times Square, actually. Except it returns to life when night ends.. I love it and will pursue some of Transtromer's books.

P.S. Especially love this:

Here the cottage lies sunken
and it seems without life.
Until the morning dew murmurs and an old man opens - with trembling hand -
the window and[ ... ]

Then the surprise.

[ ... ] lets out an owl.

You could write several poems about just how that owl got there and what is his relationship to the man.

It is a great setup for the poem's serious conclusion

Let them feel without anxiety
the camouflaged wings
and the energy of God
rolled up in the dark
.


I hope that kfw is reading this.

#10 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 01:59 PM

Glad you got at least something out of my very clumsy translation, Bart!

Well, you could begin with speaking to your local librarian. A librarian worth his or her salt should be able to guide the prospective reader and suggest works, which might not be in the library, but could be on order from some larger and more well stocked central library. I have always found librarians very helpful when challenged to get hold of something more unusual. A friend of mine is a librarian and she says she is fed up to the gills with requests for, well, wont mention any names here, but you surely see what I mean.

Whatever might be said about my translation, at least I think I managed to capture some of that mystic feel of the original. However, Tomas Tranströmer is very
readable and not what I would call a "difficult" poet.

#11 innopac

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 02:47 PM

Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer, in translation (Los Angeles Times) October 7, 2011
Link to article

#12 kfw

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 05:53 PM

Thank you so much, Pamela. I confess to being a sucker for those Scandinavian movies involving solitary houses, deserted landscapes, and one or two silent people moving slowly. An endless buildup to a climax that never comes.

Me too.

It is a great setup for the poem's serious conclusion
Let them feel without anxiety
the camouflaged wings
and the energy of God
rolled up in the dark
.


I hope that kfw is reading this.

[Insert smilie here] I think I may take your meaning, bart, but let me play completely dense and ask you to explain.

Thanks Pamela and innopac.

#13 dirac

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:47 PM

Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer, in translation (Los Angeles Times) October 7, 2011
Link to article


Nice article, innopac, thank you.

Pamela, when you were doing your translation, what aspects of his poetry were you trying hardest to convey? Was it the "feel" as you wrote? Is your meter close to his, for example?

#14 kfw

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 06:34 AM

The New Yorker has a Transtromer poem in its latest issue:


The House of Headache


I woke up inside the headache. The headache is a room where I have to stay as I cannot afford to pay rent anywhere else. Every hair aches to the point of turning gray. There is an ache inside that Gordian knot, the brain, which wants to do so much in so many directions. The ache is also a half-moon hanging down in the light-blue sky; the color disappears from my face; my nose is pointing downward; the entire divining rod is turning down toward the subterranean current. I moved into a house built in the wrong place; there is a magnetic pole just under the bed, just under my pillow, and when the weather chops around above the bed I am charged. Time and again I try to imagine that a celestial bonesetter is pinching me through a miraculous grip on my cervical vertebrae, a grip that will put life right once and for all. But the house of headache is not ready to be written off just yet. First I have to live inside it for an hour, two hours, half a day. If at first I said it was a room, change that to a house. But the question now is this: Is it not an entire city? Traffic is unbearably slow. The breaking news is out. And somewhere a telephone is ringing.

(Translated, from the Swedish, by John Matthias and Lars-Hakan Svensson.)

#15 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 02:10 PM

Thank you kfw for the House of Headache. Just wonder if he wrote that after his stroke. Come to that, one cannot help but wonder if he will be strong enough to manage the ceremony. That now is a real marathon in length - first prize ceremony at 4 p.m., then gala dinner which lasts for hours. Great pity if he will not be able to attend and I feel sure that he will not. Now, he has a valid cause, not like that Jelinek woman a couple of years ago who "was terrified of crowds and rather stayed home with her stuffed toys". Yes, it is actually true :wallbash:

Well, Dirac, it pleases me that you found my translation readable. The method I adopted was the following: First I did it line by line, word by word. Some of it became gibberish of course, so with a very light hand I tried to make sense of it. Swedish and English differ in fundamental ways: Swedish for a start does not by a long chalk have such a splendid vocabulary as English. One could say that English with very subtle nuances has three words for every Swedish word. I will just take one example: For different ways of walking you have so many words in English that exactly describes the manner of walking. In Swedish you mainly have "walk" and then you have to add an adjective to describe the manner of walking. As Swedish people generally are very fond of nature, I find the vocabulary fairly rich in that field. But to hit just the right word which will describe an item economically can be quite hard. They say the inuits have over forty words to describe snow, probably necessary for them.
Anyway, I wanted to convey Tranström himself and not impose something like my "interpretation" of his work. Translating is hard work, I cannot say I like it very much and I find it preferable to read an author in the original language. It would never occur to me to read a book written in English translated into Swedish.
But with the Turkish laureate a few years ago, Orhan Pamuk, of course I had no choice. What is most annoying though, and where I feel that you lose very much is when a work has to be translated first into English and then into Swedish. Is there indeed much left of the author's intention in such cases?


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