Carina Burman is a university teacher specializing in Swedish literature of the 17th and 18th centuries but in recent years she has emerged as one of the most talented and exciting of Swedish novelists, receiving unusually enthusiastic reviews for Min salig bror Jean Hendrich (My Dear Brother Jean Hendrich, 1993) and Den tionde sånggudinnan (The Tenth Muse, 1996). Both are literary pastiches, mixing fact and fiction in most ingenious and entertaining fashion the former is related to the life of the 17th-century Swedish poet and critic Johan Henric Kellgren, and the latter involves an Uppsala researcher in the early 20th century who is tracing letters written by Sophia Elisabeth Brenner, a woman poet active at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries in Sweden.
Sarah Death interviews Carina Burman, and introduces her translation of an extract from Den tionde sånggudinnan. (An extract from the other novel appears in the 1998 Supplement.) We also print the text of what was originally a lecture given by Carina Burman at several universities in the UK, "Faking the Eighteenth Century". In highly entertaining and instructive fashion, the author explains how she goes about creating her pastiches, and how she uses her academic expertise as the basis of her fictional writing. This essay is also available online.
Per Olof Sundman (1922-92) was one of Sweden's leading writers in the 1960s and 1970s, best known for his short stories (many of which are set in the mountains of northern Sweden where he spent some years as a hotel owner) and his novel Ingeniör Andrées luftfärd (1967), which was translated into English as Flight of the Eagle in 1970, and turned into a much-praised film. He was also active in politics for the Centre Party (a party originally representing agrarian interests) and was a member of the Swedish parliament for ten years from 1968; he was elected to the Swedish Academy in 1975. In recent years, rumours have circulated about his Nazi past, and several publications have brought Sundman and his works, as well as his life, to the forefront of Swedish attention.
Rick McGregor is a New Zealander who wrote a doctoral thesis on Sundman
in 1993 (published as Per Olof Sundman and the Icelandic Sagas, Gothenburg, 1994).
He has translated a little-known short story of Sundman's, "Lek" (Game), which
seems to be based on the writer's experiences at a pro-Nazi demonstration in his youth,
and contributes an article on Sundman's relationship with Nazism. Unlike some Swedish
commentators, McGregor does not believe the silence of Sundman's last years was connected
with some kind of guilty conscience: he argues that Sundman soon grew out of his mistaken
early beliefs, and used his experiences to good advantage in his later writings.
The latest Swedish Biennial Magazine Fair was held in Stockholm in May
1998. Swedish Book Review was the only non-Swedish exhibitor. Sarah Death, a
regular contributor to SBR, has a full report on the event. The next Tidskrifts
Biennalen will be held in Gothenburg in 2002.
Persson calls his introduction "Wild Man's Country", a reference to the mediaeval concept (borrowed from Central Europe) that such a remote wilderness must be inhabited by some kind of primitive creature, half-man and half-beast. The "wild man" is incorporated into the coat of arms of Lappland, and Persson uses it as a symbol for his work and aspirations:
Persson believes passionately that the tradition of wild nature must be maintained, even in an age which seems determined to tame, exploit and "civilize" every inch of land and water. He has lived close to that nature for many years, and his descriptions of the mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, flora and fauna (and the frequent struggles with the forces of "civilization" that threaten them) strikes a chord in anyone who has visited the area, in the spirit or in the flesh.
Our front cover picture captures the atmosphere of reindeer herding, when the Sami herdsmen sort out which beasts are to be slaughtered, castrated or branded.
The back cover picture is of a scene many summer tourists know as a raging torrent with rapids and waterfalls on the famous Vindel River but with a difference: this picture was taken on 20 December, 1981, when the temperature was minus thirty degrees Centigrade.