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Nobel Prize to Tomas Tranströmer


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#16 puppytreats

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 05:18 PM

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:



Pamela, That is a startlingly judgmental comment. I suppose you are not familiar with psychological or emotional pain or the terror and pain of shyness.

#17 kfw

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 06:38 PM

Swedish for a start does not by a long chalk have such a splendid vocabulary as English.


By a long chalk? I don't know if that's a Swedish figure of speech or a misremembered English one, but it's delightful. Technical difficulties make me unable to post smilies, but here, anyhow, are my virtual flowers!

#18 Drew

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 12:31 PM


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:



Pamela, That is a startlingly judgmental comment. I suppose you are not familiar with psychological or emotional pain or the terror and pain of shyness.


I don't suffer as Jellinek does, but I can easily take her feelings seriously. And, in any case, people don't necessarily become Nobel prize winning authors by having the same preferences as everyone else...

Of course, for an author who would wish to attend the ceremony (which is probably most), it's a shame if they can't.

I should add that I have very much enjoyed being introduced to Tranströmer's poetry on this thread (and elsewhere) as a result of his prize.

#19 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 03:27 PM

Sorry that puppytreats took took it so badly - however it was not my personal opinion - it was simply what was on radio, television and in the press - everybody thought that she behaved abominably.

Having some inside knowledge of the whole Nobel Prize procedures - my late brother who had served in the Swedish corps diplomatique in Canada told me about it. The laureate is welcomed by a special host for what is called The Nobel Week. That host is Swedish but must have profound knowledge of the country of the laureate, who by the way is allowed to invite a party or family of ten people. If he wants a greater entourage than that, he must pay himself for those people exceeding the stipulated ten. There are no expenses; fares, hotel, food and everything is paid for by the Nobel Foundation. As you can see, the party is very well taken care of and catered for during their stay in Sweden, the host being at hand (day and night as my brother put it).
This is one of the most splendid and well organized events during the year in Sweden.

As many of the recipients are quite elderly and maybe not in perfect health, yet there are very very few who dont attend. There really must be a very good reason to be absent, this year one of the laureates passed away the day before the announcement. Then we have had people who were not allowed to collect their prize for political reasons, f.ex. Solshenitzyn, Pasternak as well if mem. serves. But to stay away on a ridiculous whim - never heard of before. Agoraphobia is not considered a valid excuse. But when it came to pocketing the money, she was neither shy, nor wanting to be left alone. In that respect Sartre was more honest, he didnt take the money as it was against his political principles taking cash from a capitalist foundation.

#20 bart

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:15 PM

That host is Swedish but must have profound knowledge of the country of the laureate, who by the way is allowed to invite a party or family of ten people. If he wants a greater entourage than that, he must pay himself for those people exceeding the stipulated ten. There are no expenses; fares, hotel, food and everything is paid for by the Nobel Foundation.

WOW ! That IS first class hospitality.

#21 puppytreats

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 06:29 PM

Sorry that puppytreats took took it so badly - however it was not my personal opinion - it was simply what was on radio, television and in the press - everybody thought that she behaved abominably.

Having some inside knowledge of the whole Nobel Prize procedures - my late brother who had served in the Swedish corps diplomatique in Canada told me about it. The laureate is welcomed by a special host for what is called The Nobel Week. That host is Swedish but must have profound knowledge of the country of the laureate, who by the way is allowed to invite a party or family of ten people. If he wants a greater entourage than that, he must pay himself for those people exceeding the stipulated ten. There are no expenses; fares, hotel, food and everything is paid for by the Nobel Foundation. As you can see, the party is very well taken care of and catered for during their stay in Sweden, the host being at hand (day and night as my brother put it).
This is one of the most splendid and well organized events during the year in Sweden.

As many of the recipients are quite elderly and maybe not in perfect health, yet there are very very few who dont attend. There really must be a very good reason to be absent, this year one of the laureates passed away the day before the announcement. Then we have had people who were not allowed to collect their prize for political reasons, f.ex. Solshenitzyn, Pasternak as well if mem. serves. But to stay away on a ridiculous whim - never heard of before. Agoraphobia is not considered a valid excuse. But when it came to pocketing the money, she was neither shy, nor wanting to be left alone. In that respect Sartre was more honest, he didnt take the money as it was against his political principles taking cash from a capitalist foundation.



The professed opinion of media does not validate something. To the contrary, media profit from controversy, real or self-generated. In any event, media do not constitute the arbiter of morality.

Your statement about what constitutes a "valid" excuse also lacks merit. Mental illness is no less "valid" than physical illness. I hope that neither you nor your family suffer its curse.

I doubt she applied for any prize, and she has no obligation to anyone; therefore, she need offer no "excuse", whether "valid" or not. The unconditional offer of money does not create an obligation on the part of a recipient. A gift requires only donor intent and delivery.

Nothing you have written has suggested dishonesty, so to attribute a greater degree of "honest[y]" to another also represents an improper conclusion.

#22 4mrdncr

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 08:15 PM

NPR did a story on the poet (and the fact that most of us in the USA probably would not be familiar with his work). They also had him reading his work and a (simultaneous?) english translation; it was very good and I really enjoyed listening while stuck in traffic. There is probably a transcript or aural version of the story at the NPR website.

#23 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 05:30 AM

kfw, thank you so much for the flowers! One is right now at my desk - just plucked the last rose from the garden before the frost sets in.

Yes, "by a long chalk". Must confess I do not know much about the expression, it is English, might be a London cockney one. But I remember we used it quite a lot when I was living in London and not only cockneys said it, but also educated people. It is one of those idioms that is untranslatable - if I were to translate that into Swedish and use it in conversation, nobody would understand me. Similarly, there are a lot of idioms in Swedish which translated into English would sound as absolute gibberish. What interests me is, where is the boundary between an idiom and a slang expression? My own views on the subject is that an idiom has a longer life span than a slang expression. And remember that nothing dates you more effectively than outmoded slang words - like you have been living in your own little bubble for the past decade or so:blushing: I try to keep it in mind, but do not always succeed.

No really, puppytreats, I do not feel like arguing with you any more, you have your ideas, I am perfectly entitled to mine. With respects.
If anyone wants to discuss Ms. Jelinek's work with me, they are welcome, I did after all try to plough through a couple of her works. With very limited success.
Couldnt stand the ---- , same with the film maker Lars von Trier's work. No, life is too short :crying:

#24 puppytreats

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 07:23 AM

kfw, thank you so much for the flowers! One is right now at my desk - just plucked the last rose from the garden before the frost sets in.

Yes, "by a long chalk". Must confess I do not know much about the expression, it is English, might be a London cockney one. But I remember we used it quite a lot when I was living in London and not only cockneys said it, but also educated people. It is one of those idioms that is untranslatable - if I were to translate that into Swedish and use it in conversation, nobody would understand me. Similarly, there are a lot of idioms in Swedish which translated into English would sound as absolute gibberish. What interests me is, where is the boundary between an idiom and a slang expression? My own views on the subject is that an idiom has a longer life span than a slang expression. And remember that nothing dates you more effectively than outmoded slang words - like you have been living in your own little bubble for the past decade or so:blushing: I try to keep it in mind, but do not always succeed.

No really, puppytreats, I do not feel like arguing with you any more, you have your ideas, I am perfectly entitled to mine. With respects.
If anyone wants to discuss Ms. Jelinek's work with me, they are welcome, I did after all try to plough through a couple of her works. With very limited success.
Couldnt stand the ---- , same with the film maker Lars von Trier's work. No, life is too short :crying:



I am not arguing. I just feel an obligation to object to prejudice and injustice.

You are entitled to your opinion, but (a) you stated your were relying on the opinion of the press, not your own and (b)racism, prejudices, and misinformation call for response.

I am sure many people hold the "opinion" that certain races are inferior, or that certain impaired people do not deserve rights or a voice of support. Newspapers may even make certain similar claims under certain political climates. Making such statements on a public board prompts (hopefully) corrective responses.

If you perceive this to be an argument, then I invite you to get the last word. I achieve no satisfaction in these discussions, just a moral imperative to stand up for the unfairly accused, those who suffer from misrepresentation, and the powerless.

#25 dirac

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 09:36 AM

You are entitled to your opinion, but (a) you stated your were relying on the opinion of the press, not your own and (b)racism, prejudices, and misinformation call for response.


I tend to agree with both you and Drew on the Jelinek matter in principle, puppytreats, but please let's be careful about ascribing motives. Also, if we could not draw conclusions here from press accounts, fallible and incomplete as they frequently are, we wouldn't have much to talk about. :)

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?


I'm sure it's very hard work and we all thank you for it. I am mostly monolingual myself, so it's not a task I'm likely to undertake, but I can imagine. I think that your goal of conveying Tranström's sensibility is a legitimate one, and it calls to mind Auden's remark about translations - you can't get much from them except the sensibility of the poet. That alone can be most rewarding, however.

#26 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 02:50 PM

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.

#27 dirac

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 06:35 PM

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.

#28 bart

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 12:26 PM

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?

#29 Jayne

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 01:28 AM

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.

#30 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 03:26 PM

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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