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2004 Supplement


Guest Editor: Ross Shideler

Swedish Book Review 2004 Supplement: Per Olov Enquist

We have chosen in this Supplement to focus on Per Olov Enquist's fiction, and we have been fortunate enough to be able to offer the reader a selection of excerpts that range from some of his earliest fiction to his two latest novels. An essay by Boyd Tonkin, the Literary Editor of The Independent, serves as an introduction to Enquist. We also have the good fortune to have Tiina Nunnally write an essay about working with Enquist during the process of translating his most recent novels. Happily, she and Overlook Press have also generously agreed to allow us to print an excerpt from a translation that is still in progress, Enquist's latest novel, Boken om Blanche och Marie (The Book about Blanche and Marie).

Having begun the supplement with Enquist's latest novel, it seemed logical to structure this volume as a circle: after beginning with the most recent work, to turn back and follow his development through some of his early and mid-career fiction, then to finish with another of his late novels.

We believe the essays by Boyd Tonkin, Tiina Nunnally and Anna Paterson will enhance the reader's understanding of Enquist's sometimes complex and challenging work.

Per Olov EnquistPer Olov Enquist: An Introduction
Ross Shideler, Guest Editor
The Visit of the Royal PhysicianPer Olov Enquist's The Visit of the Royal Physician
Boyd Tonkin
Per Olov Enquist won the 2003 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Visit of the Royal Physician. Literary Editor Boyd Tonkin provides an introduction to Enquist and his work.
Per Olov EnquistTranslating the Novels of Per Olov Enquist
Tiina Nunnally
Tiina Nunnally provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of her work on translating Per Olov Enquist's novels The Visit of the Royal Physician, lewi's Journey and The Book about Blanche and Marie.
The Book About Blanche and Mariefrom The Book About Blanche and Marie
Per Olov Enquist
Translated and introduced by Tiina Nunnally

Per Olov Enquist’s brilliant new novel tells the story of the unusual friendship between two remarkable women: Blanche Wittman, the famous hysteria patient of Professor J. M. Charcot at Salpêtrière Hospital, and Marie Sklodowska Curie, the Polish physicist and Nobel Prize Winner. Radium and love, equally mysterious and inexplicable, are the keys to their friendship. While the scientists tries to understand the nature of the shimmering radioactive substance, Blanche fills three notebooks with her exploration of a deceptively simple question: What is love? And once again, Enquist has shaped historical facts into a startling and extraordinary tale.
Hessfrom Hess
Per Olov Enquist
Translated by Neil Smith
In the opening six pages of Hess, the character of Pinsch is introduced, followed by the narrator who introduces himself as the Researcher. He pointedly brings his role and identity in the novel to the attention of the reader, yet claims he wants to remain anonymous. He then briefly digresses to Daniel Defoe before returning to himself and his presentation of the character Hess.
Conversation in TonopahConversation in Tonopah
Per Olov Enquist
Translated by Peter Linton

Enquist often begins his plays, novels and short stories with short quotations and he uses them to give the reader a particular insight into the text that follows. In this case, the quotation seems to parallel the story of a traveler making new discoveries that are not exactly what he expected. During a trip to a small town in Nevada, the narrator talks with a young man who had visited Sweden; the conversation surprisingly reveals how differently we perceive our own countries.
Per Olov Enquistfrom The Second
Per Olov Enquist
Translated by Sarah Death

The almost poetic opening dream (and there is often a kind of poetry in Enquist’s prose) sets up the reality of the narrator’s day; we are told of the shock of hearing news reports (about the Soviet invasion of Prague), and of the his insecurity. He describes another piece of a dream and that dream with its imagery of Andersen’s ice palace and a puzzle being completed lead into the narrator’s intention to tell the reader his father’s story. What he begins with, however, is the story of a trip on a river taken by himself and his brother Peter. It will take most of the novel before the reader understands how these different stories come together.

Per Olov EnquistKnut Hamsun, Per Olov Enquist and the Uses of Imagination.
Anna Paterson
From Hamsun. A Film Script.
Per Olov Enquist
Translated by Anna Paterson

Anna Paterson provides an introduction to Per Olov Enquist's film script Hamsun, explaining that it also works as a brilliant episodic novel, before presenting an extract from her translation of the work.

Lewi's Journeyfrom Lewi's Journey
Per Olov Enquist
Translated by Tiina Nunnally

Tiina Nunnally presents an excerpt from her translation of Per Olov Enquist's epic story of the Pentecostal movement in early 20th century Sweden, which centres round two wildly different men: the hedonistic poet Sven Lidman and the evangelical preacher Lewi Pethrus.
Lewi's Journey was reviewed by Anna Paterson in SBR 2002:1.

Per Olov EnquistOn Lewi's Journey, Christian Fundamentalism, Documentary Fiction, European Fiction and more
Anna Paterson
Anna Paterson presents an account of Per Olov Enquist's appearance at the 10th International Book Festival in Budapest in 2003.

BibliographyPer Olov Enquist: Selected Bibliography
Compiled by Ross Shideler

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