Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Nomad av Harry Martinson (2/5)

First published: 1931/1943
Page count: 103

The back says: Nothing. This is a new edition with new poems and illustrations by Torsten Billman.

I say: I have heard the name Harry Martinson more or less my entire life, but never paid him much attention - although I do recall reading one of his poems when I was studying literary science at uni – and the reason I decided to pick up one of his collections is because he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974.

As with Nelly Sachs, I read the poems in Swedish, but since they have been translated into English I will write the review in English.

Although it will be a short one.

I did not like this collection at all, mostly because I didn’t understand what he was trying to say. There were no emotions that I could decipher and it all read much like an inventory of events that someone decided to write down.

For whatever reason.

The language was archaic and stiff, the imagery bland and the most pleasure I got out of it was looking at the illustrations. Having said that, Martinson did get a few sentences here and there right, but all in all this style was not for me. I did borrow another collection, Aniara, from the library that I may give a go (it was published in 1956 so his style may have evolved in that time).

Quite noteworthy of Martinson (and Eyvind Johnson whom he shared the prize with in 1974) is that they were both members of the Nobel panel at the time that they won, which lead to a lot of controversy and was the reason he committed suicide in 1978, finding it hard to handle the criticism.

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