Björn Larsson was born in central Sweden in 1953, and went to school in Jönköping, but was soon smitten by an irresistible wanderlust. His first literary book was a collection of short stories, Splitter (Splinters, 1980), which received mixed notices; but he really made his mark in 1992 with Den keltiska ringen (The Celtic Ring), a novel whose main character Larsson says is his boat Rustica. That may be tongue in cheek, but it is set largely in Scotland and Ireland where he and his Danish wife Helle spent a year on board Rustica.
Larsson started to write the novel before the Berlin wall came down, and before devolution came to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He seems to have anticipated a trend that became widespread throughout Europe. We print an extract of George Simpson's translation of The Celtic Ring.
Freedom and the seafaring life was also at the heart of Björn Larsson's second novel, Long John Silver (1995). We print a bone-chilling extract from Tom Geddes's translation of the novel, which will be published by Harvill Press, London, in 1999. We also have a general introduction to the novel and a discussion of the principles followed by the translator in making his translation.
Björn Larsson's latest novel is Drömmar vid havet (Dreams by the Sea, 1997),
and once again the setting is the sea and a central theme freedom. Ian Hinchcliffe
introduces Drömmar vid havet, and has translated three extracts as a taster
which will no doubt whet the appetite for more.
The fourteenth Gothenburg Book Fair took place on October 22-25, 1998,
with two focal themes: Literature for Children and Young People; and Cultural Heritage. On
this occasion the Book Fair joined forces with the Nordic Museum Fair, which offered the
opportunity of many cultural corss references. SBR's Review Editor Irene Scobbie reports
from the Fair.
Thomas Tidholm, born in Örebro in 1943, made his debut as a poet in 1963. He has since then written numerous volumes of poetry, plays for the stage, television and radio, and children's books with illustrations by his wife, Anna-Clara Tidholm. Gabriella Berggren introduces the work of Thomas Tidholm and presents a series of her translations of his poetry from Friluftsliv i strandområden och andra prosadikter (Outdoor Life in Shoreland Terrain, 1991), in which Tidholm says his aim was to write pseudo-scientific essays in the form of poetry.
Paul Binding is a literary journalist and the author of several books, including the
novels Harmonica's Bridegroom (1984) and Kingfisher Weather (1989), the
prize-winning memoir St Martin's Ride (1990) and critical studies of Eudora Welty
(1994) and John Masefield (1998). He writes frequently for the Independent on Sunday
and the Times Literary Supplement. In 1996 Paul Binding was granted an award by Sveriges
författarfond for services to Swedish literature. The House with Five Windows
will be published by Boulevard Press, London, in 1999.
The first in a series featuring Swedish and Finland-Swedish publishing houses is devoted to Stockholm-based Ordfront, which has been remarkably successful in recent years.
Pettersson, Advancing on all fronts
Kerstin Gustafsson, Feeling one's way
as a translator
This is the latest contribution to SBR's running bibliography of Swedish
books published in English translation, and books about Sweden in English. The previous
update was published in SBR Issue 1995:2.
Issue No 7, 1998, of the Finnish publication Kääntäjä -
Översättaren (The Translator) contains a survey of "translation centres"
in various parts of Europe, with brief presentations of each one - various languages are
used, including Finnish, Swedish, English and German. Most of the centres have residential
facilities as well as libraries and resource centres, and they now exist in Straelen
(Germany), Rhodes (Greece), Amsterdam (Holland), Budapest (Hungary), Norwich (England),
Dilbeek (Belgium), Tarazona (Spain), Newbliss (Ireland), Naples (Italy), Albufera
(Portugal), Bratislava (Slovakia), Arles (France), and - most interesting of all for
translators from Swedish - Visby (Gotland): this latter establishment is known as Östersjöns
författar- och översättarcentrum, and is intended as a centre for authors and
translators in the area surrounding the Baltic Sea, including Sweden. For more information
on the last-mentioned centre, contact:
Hans Mårtensson is an interior designer and architect, and has developed a special interest in traditional garden gates and fences, travalling the length and breadth of Sweden in order to record in words and pictures a fascinating cultural heritage which, unfortunately, seems to be in decline. A moment's thought will convince foreign visitors to Sweden that one of the aspects that combine to form the impression of memories "typically Swedish" is the way in which the (usually) wooden fences and gates, often painted white, contrast yet blend prettily with the red or yellow-painted houses they are generally associated with.
The fashion for these beautiful pieces of craftmanship was
at its height in the nineteenth century, especially in the "garden cities" based
on English models; but there are many variations, not least in well-preserved Swedish
seaside resorts. Mårtensson regrets that with the advent of strict building regulations
as the twentieth century progressed (when wooden fences were restricted as a fire hazard!)
and the advent of smaller plots with houses placed in the centre of them in an open-plan
estate, the old tradition has waned. But it is preserved in many places, and Mårtensson
would like to see it revived as we move into the twenty-first century in a spirit that
attaches great value to cultural traditions and the desire to preserve them. He even
supplies advice on how to protect and replace old fences and gates: let us hope that many
readers take his advice - and that those of us outside Sweden who value such traditions
might be moved to emulate them in our own environment. The book is a treasure trove of
stimulating and nostalgic pictures, of which the two we reproduce on our covers are only a
tiny proportion of the 180 in the original.
The fifteenth World Congress on Translation will be held in Mons,
Belgium, on 6-10 August 1999. The registration fee is approx US$ 400 (depending on when
one registers - it is cheaper before March 31, more expensive after that date). To obtain
a brochure, registration form, programme and list of hotels and tours, contact:
An initiative stemming from Professor Robert Bjork, Arizona State
University, has led to the setting up of the Scandinavian Translation Association in the
USA. Their aims are: to organize translators, to make translations from the Scandinavian
languages available to the general public (including business enterprises), to compile a
register of translators, and to establish a database comprising translations into English
of Swedish originals. (It should be stressed that this summary is that of an outside
observer, rather than their own!) The steering committee will consist of Professor Bjork,
Professor Ross Shideler (UCLA), Professor Rochelle Wright (University of Illinois) and
Professor Kim Andersson (Washington State University).