Deborah Bragan-Turner

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2007:2 Issue

Swedish Book Review 2007:2 issueEditorial

Patricia Crampton wrote in the 1991 SBR Children’s Literature Supplement about how fortunate she felt in the 1970s to be able to translate so many of Astrid Lindgren’s beautifully written books. Now a somewhat younger set of translators will get an opportunity to add this to their own experience, as Oxford University Press embarks on an ambitious project to retranslate many of Lindgren’s best-loved books. This autumn has seen publication of a lavish new centenary edition of Pippi Longstocking, translated by Tiiina Nunnally and illustrated by Lauren Child, which one hopes will introduce Astrid Lindgren to a new generation of children. Scheduled for publication in 2008 are the three Emil books, two Children of Troublemaker Street titles, and the three Karlson on the Roof books, with their anarchic eponymous “hero”, described by our contributor Paul Binding as “that eccentric, motor-propelled being”.

SBR is pleased to celebrate Astrid’s hundredth birthday with not only Paul Binding’s perceptive article but also two translations of pieces that have not been available in English before: “Never Violence!”, a seminal speech that expresses not only Lindgren’s pacifism but her belief that the way we bring up our children will have a profound bearing on the chances for future world peace; and her affectionate account of her parents’ courtship, “Samuel August from Sevedstorp and Hanna from Hult”.

The Lindgren centenary on 14 November 2007 is being celebrated around the world. Astrid Lindgren wrote 88 books and is Sweden’s most acclaimed children’s author. Her books have been translated into 76 languages; Pippi Longstocking alone is published in 57 languages. Lindgren always stood firmly on the side of the child and many of her characters challenge the adult world, as she did herself in her work as a campaigner on many issues.

The theme of writing for children extends through into the extract from Niklas Rådström’s The Guest, which embroiders on the historical fact of a visit paid by Hans Christian Andersen, arguably Denmark’s counterpart to Astrid Lindgren, to Charles Dickens in Kent in 1858.

A vulnerable child features, too, in the nightmarishly atmospheric opening scene from Johan Theorin’s In the Twilight Hour, which has become a major best-seller in Sweden. Three further books are planned in the series, set on the island of Öland; the first two titles at least will eventually be available in English.

Meanwhile, there is cheering news from Sweden about translation subsidies. The government’s budget announcement for 2008 promises the reintroduction of a subsidy scheme, with an increase in funds to seven million kronor annually. This sum will cover grants for translation of both fiction and non-fiction, sample translations, plus support of translators and events abroad. The scheme will be administered by Sweden’s Arts Council (Statens kulturråd) rather than the Swedish Institute. Details have yet to be finalized, but it seems likely that a new centre for Swedish literature will be set up.

Astrid LindgrenLong Live Pippi!
Paul Binding
This autumn has seen publication of a lavish new centenary edition of Pippi Longstocking, translated by Tiina Nunnally and illustrated by Lauren Child, which one hopes will introduce Astrid Lindgren to a whole new generation of children. Paul Binding presents a perceptive article on Astrid Lindgren's work, concluding that "Astrid Lindgren... is a gift from Sweden to the whole world".

Samuel AugustSamuel August from Sevedstorp and Hanna from Hult
Astrid Lindgren
Translated and abridged by Marlaine Delargy
This affectionate tribute to her parents was first published by Astrid Lindgren in 1975. This and similar autobiographical pieces are much quoted in the research literature that has sprung up around Lindgren's oeuvre, as they not only shed light on her regional roots but are also seen as keys to the inspirations and impulses behind many of her most enduring works of fiction.
[Samuel August från Sevedstorp och Hanna i Hult, Rabén & Sjögren, 2007. 144pp. ISBN 9789129667400]

Astrid LindgrenNever Violence!
Astrid Lindgren
Translated by Laurie Thompson
The world is very familiar with Astrid Lindgren the children's writer. Her role as an opinion former is less widely known. This speech, delivered when she collected the German Booksellers' Peace Prize in Frankfurt in 1978, appears in a new anthology focusing on Astrid Lindgren as an opinion former and campaigner.
[Ingen liten lort. Astrid Lindgren som opinionsbildare. Rabén & Sjögren, 2007. 207pp. ISBN 9789129666922]
Astrid Lindgren for the Children of India
Arundhati Deosthale
Arundhati Deosthale describes the Omnibus of Astrid Lindgren in Hindi currently being prepared.

Johan Theorinfrom In the Twilight Hour
Johan Theorin
Translated and with an introduction by Marlaine Delargy
Johan Theorin is a journalist and scriptwriter. In the Twilight Hour is his debut novel; it was sold to eight countries even before publication in Swden, and has attracted considerable critical acclaim. The novel is something different - a mystery tale, but certainly not a conventional detective story. Theorin creates complex, believable characters with a sure hand, and vividly conveys the atmosphere of northern Öland.
[Johan Theorin, Skumtimmen. Wahlström & Widstrand, 2007. 396pp. ISBN 9789146215806]

Niklas Rådströmfrom The Guest
Niklas Rådström
Translated and introduced by Frank Perry
Niklas Rådström is one of the most prolific of Sweden's leading contemporary writers. Gästen was published in 2006 to almost universal acclaim from Swedish critics. Rådström's elegant command of metaphor, his mastery of narrative structure and the pace of his writing make this short work a great pleasure to read. Gästen deals with the arrival of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen to stay with Charles Dickens in 1858. Rådström makes use of this "historic" meeting to create a tragi-comic meditation on the nature of creativity and its fraught relation to friendship and rivalry.
is reviewed in this issue of SBR.
[Niklas Rådström, Gästen. Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2006. 150pp. ISBN 9789100107956]

Tove Jansson Conference
Pembroke College, Oxford, 24 March 2007
Silvester Mazzarella presents an account of the Tove Jansson conference held last year in Oxford, concluding: "I understand that the enthusiastic interest for Tove Jansson's world and work shown at the conference exceeded all expectations even for the energetic organizers themselves".

Gunilla Anderman 1938-2007
An obituary of Gunilla Anderman, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.


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