The great Swedish writer Harry Martinson published his masterpiece, Aniara, during the height of the Cold War – right after the Soviet Union. Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem [Harry Martinson] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This is the paperback edition translated from the. When Swedish poet and writer Harry Martinson was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”.

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When Swedish poet and writer Harry Martinson was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”the decision was controversial, to say the least. Any Nobel prize to a Swedish recipient is of course automatically suspect. If you pick persons in the world at random, you can only expect to find one Swedish-speaking person in the group. And there are more than mzrtinson, languages in ,artinson world.

Great talent can be found even in a small population. And England’s population was just million in the age of Shakespeare and Newton.

Review: Aniara by Harry Martinson

What really matters seems to be the level of cultural activity in a country rather than gross numbers. You have to wonder how many unsung geniuses around the world are being mattinson or overlooked even today, due to a lack of education, challenges, and opportunities. The Swedish Academy strives to strike a balance that reflects the quantity and quality of literary achievements in different regions of the world, and within each region.

An impossible task, to be sure. How could a small group of part-time readers ever hope to cover all of world literature? And besides, something is always aniarw in translation. There was an hardy ground for criticism, however. Both Martinson and his co-recipient Eyvind Johnson were members of the Academy. Martinson, who was a very sensitive person, was martinzon offended at insinuations that he had been awarded the prize for reasons other than merit.

Subsequent attacks by Swedish left-wing authors accused him of being out of touch with a new generation of political activists less prone to “sweet resignation”. He sank into a deep depression and finally committed suicide in My mother enjoyed literature and tried to instill the same interest in me.


This was not too difficult when it came to the Swedish classics from the 19th and early 20th martinsoh, but contemporary Swedish writers did not excite me. But she found a way to overcome my resistance. InMartinson published a collection of poetry: Although it wasn’t exactly the kind of science fiction I was used to reading, it was interesting enough, with its theme and its inventive, playful language.

InMartinson published a complete volume of poems, Aniarawhich was an expanded version of the Doris and Mima cycle. I received it as a present shortly after it appeared. By now, I was a little older and more mature and could appreciate it better. The story line is simple enough. A future war is raging on the Earth, and people are fleeing to Mars. One magtinson the space ships, Aniara, carries 8, emigrants. The ship encounters an asteroid and has to make an evasive manoeuvre.

This puts it harrg a hyperbolic trajectory out of the solar system, with no hope of harry. The book describes the attempts of the emigrants to cope with their fate: A central role is played by the ship’s computer, the Mima, which is not just intellectually superior to any human – it also harbors deep emotions and dies from grief when it witnesses the Earth’s destruction.

There are no children. The last passenger dies after some 25 years. The ship is destined to travel for another 15, years before reaching the vicinity of another star. Martinson memorably compares abiara spaceship to “a bubble in the glass of God’s spirit”referring to the glacial movement of bubbles in glass, understood martnison a liquid with very high viscosity.

I do not intend to describe the book in detail. It is very familiar to every educated Swede, and to non-Swedes it is out martison reach due to the language barrier. True, it has been translated into many languages, but in my opinion no translation can do justice to Martinson’s wonderfully creative use of the Swedish language.

Aniara – Wikipedia

And even when a semantic translation is possible, how do you convey the martinspn of sound and rythm? Most beautiful among beautiful glimpses is seen the glimmer of Karelia, as a waterglint among the trees, as a lightened summer water, in the June-light time when an evening hardly has time to get dark before the wooden-flute-clear cuckoo shouts to sweet Aino.


Here, the difficulty is compounded by the lack of experience of most foreigners of the Nordic summer, and of all the emotions and nostalgia that the short summer nights evoke in Nordic people. Some details that I particularly enjoyed are the description of the superhuman computer Mima this was inremember!

That the Mima had invented half herself. A female clerk says: Martinson was widely acclaimed in the s and s, a “golden boy” in the new generation of authors, thanks to his novels and poetry, enriched with his gift for metaphor, which captured the Swedish infatuation with Nature.

He had a gift for improvisation similar to that of a good jazz musician. He had a difficult childhood and youth. His father died when he was six, and his mother deserted him the following year.

This may have contributed to his need for approval and acknowledgement, and explain his deep depression later in life, culminating in suicide, when he faced rejection from “cultural workers” and reduced popularity among the general public, due to the zeitgeist.

He was raised in foster homes. At age sixteen he became a sailor, roaming the seas for the next seven years.

Ashore, he was something of a drifter, doing part-time work and augmenting his meagre income with earnings from selling poems. The main message of Aniara”my child” as Martinson called it, is the need to take care of Mother Earth. Aniara is intended as a warning to mankind, urging us to accept responsibility and guilt for our collective sins.

It was inspired by the events of WW II and by news of the hydrogen bomb in His spiritual testament is this: Mercy grows on the foundations of life. Aniara – Harry Martinson. Aniara was turned into an opera in A late picture of Martinson. Last edited or checked June 6, Fixed broken links May 30, Things that surprise me.