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Harry Martinson Centenary

Harry Martinson
A Significant Literary Centenary

Sarah Death

Harry Martinson Centenary
This article appeared in the 2004:1 issue.

Harry MartinsonHarry Martinson (1904-78) was one of the most original Swedish writers and poets of modern times. He was born at Jämshög in Blekinge and as a child experienced considerable hardship, boarded out on farms and working for a living, before going away to sea and travelling the world. He returned to Sweden and began a career as a writer of prose and poetry that was to make him a nationally respected and loved author. His three main sources of inspiration are the sea, the natural world of southern Sweden, and the vastness of space.

The three contributions to our Martinson feature bear witness to the great and continuing interest in translating his unique oeuvre into other languages.

The Harry Martinson Society (Harry Martinson-Sällskapet) plans to celebrate the centenary year 2004 with dozens of events in different parts of Sweden. Their aim is to increase awareness of Martinson's work in Sweden and beyond. Events are taking place throughout the year and will include seminars, lectures, readings, plays and participation in the Gothenburg Book Fair. There will be a major Martinson exhibition at the Nobel Museum in Börshuset, Stockholm. For further information see www.nobel.se/nobel/nobelmuseum/exhibition-sv/martinson.html

In a project to involve the reading public, books about the author will be distributed to all main public libraries in Sweden. These will include the Society's new publication Harry Martinson 100 år 5 röster om ett författarskap (A Hundred Years of Harry Martinson Five Views of His Work; newly published by the Society in cooperation with ABF Stockholm).

Martinson's publisher Albert Bonniers förlag is marking the centenary with two publications in May: Poetiska tornbuskar i mängd. Brev 1929-49 (A Mass of Poetic Thorn Bushes. Letters 1929-49), ed. Paulina Helgeson; and De tusen dikternas bok (The Book of a Thousand Poems), ed. Stefan Sandelin. This brings together in one volume all the poems left unpublished when Martinson died, including many not previously seen in print.

We are grateful to the Martinson Society's Göran Bäckstrand both for providing a calendar of events and for assistance with picture material. For the updated calendar and links to related sites, visit the Society's website: www.harrymartinson.org