超人のジャーナリスト・アイ 169 ニューヨーク・ブルックリンの文芸雑誌『A Public Space』からつい先程メールで届いた最新情報にスウェーデンの作家Kerstin Ekmanの記事

忘れかけていたスウェーデンの作家Kerstin Ekmanの記事。やはりニューヨークの文学シーンには北欧文学は時折登場するのかしら。下記は本日メールで届いた『A Public Space』の最新記事から。Reflecting on Dissent Writing from the APS Archive.

Given the dialogues within and around the Nobel academy, we're revisiting our feature on Kerstin Ekman, who was profiled by Dorthe Nors in our pages:

The Work of Kerstin Ekman | Selected and Introduced by Dorthe Nors • May 2, 2014 Share:

Literature Begets Literature

All through my twenties I sat immersed in Kerstin Ekman’s novels. I believe she taught me to write. Now I have traveled to Stockholm to meet her. It feels like going back in time.
We have arranged to meet at Clas på Hörnet on Surbrunnsgatan, one of the city’s oldest restaurants (legend has it that the likes of King Gustav III and Sweden’s great eighteenth-century troubadour Carl Michael Bellman regularly let their hair down here). When I arrive Kerstin Ekman is waiting on a chair in the lobby. Famous people look like they do in pictures: her hair is white and neat, her deep-set eyes keen and kind, but with an air of authority too. The same authority with which she resigned from the Swedish Academy in 1989 because of what she saw as the laxity of its stance on Salman Rushdie’s fatwa. I sense that walking out like that wouldn’t have bothered her in the slightest. More likely it suited her fine to pull on a pair of walking boots and stride off into the Swedish wilds. Her literature is like that too.
Kerstin Ekman was born in 1933 in Katrineholm, a small, industrial town in the middle of Sweden. After studying German at university, she published several crime novels, but in the 1960s her writing changed aspect as she expanded the genre novel with grand, existential prose; and in the 1970s, with Women and the City, a series of trailblazing historical novels, she established her reputation as one of Sweden’s sharpest social critics and an important figure in a generation that radically changed the destinies of women, including women writers.

When I read Ekman’s books as a young woman I was very absorbed with the things she wrote about the importance of memory, not only to us as individuals but also for a narrative. The process of remembering is a big part of the narrative—that is life—and without acknowledging it we lose track. Reading her work again now, at the age of forty-three, I discover how much the plight of women stands at the center of the ouevre. I also realize that what she—and other Swedish artists—taught me was to stay in the painful process of creation. To be courageous. To stick to it.

At lunch Ekman is polite and discerning, though when she notices a dog outside the window, a golden retriever rolling in the snow, she welcomes the distraction. (Ekman loves dogs. Not only do they appear in all her books, but one of her novels, The Dog, even has one as its main character.) “Hello, there,” she says, tapping her finger against the pane. The dog looks at her gleefully.

“I prefer to sit at home reading and writing,” Ekman confesses when I ask her how she relates to the world abroad. Our fish is served and we crunch conspicuously on our toasted bread. “I haven’t traveled overseas that much to promote my books. I don’t consider I have the time. I’m an introvert. But I have traveled extensively in the Nordic countries, and some years ago I was in Germany, though I really hadn’t the inclination. There was a school reunion in Katrineholm to which I was invited and didn’t want to go, and then came this invitation from Germany that I could use as an excuse. It was because my old high-school sweetheart, whom I was so very much in love with at the time, was going to be there at the reunion. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him as a fat old man. I wanted to remember him as he was then, and so I went to Germany instead. It was hell, going from one bookstore to the next to do readings and then stand there toasting with champagne in the company of mayors. And when I returned home I was sent a photograph from the reunion—and there he was in the picture, so handsome. How fortunate I hadn’t taken part! Imagine what could have happened!

“So no, I haven’t traveled much with my books. I find it so much nicer being at home—I know that I have to write in my own way, and if I sit in a corner of the world and offer resistance, then that’s my way of doing things. One has to believe that someone will discover the things one writes. The valuable work always survives. Books have their readers, and from that moment things can take a turn, things of a literary or political nature, or something else entirely. I believe that. If I didn’t, to keep on writing wouldn’t be much fun at all.”

After lunch, I ask if I can take her photograph. Like a doting mother (Ekman’s middle name is Lillemor, little mother, and we become what we are called) she beckons me to sit down next to her. We exchange books. She writes a dedication to me in her own, and I do likewise. It’s a happy conclusion, our lunch is over, and then the idol of my youth is gone, departed into Stockholm’s winter.

1. A Question for My Father

In this talk from a writers’ conference in 1995 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Ekman sketches the fundamental themes of her work and what has inspired her over the years—women’s ambivalent relationship to the construction of society.

“It’s natural for me to depict society and to write about politics and technology—in that respect, as A Question for My Father makes clear, my father is there in the background. He was an incorrigible optimist when it came to science and progress, which he believed would save the world. Imagine if he had been around to see how far we’ve come! His world was in stark contrast to that of my mother. My mother was a born storyteller. She wasn’t an active proponent of the women’s cause, but she always took a female aspect on things. Gradually I began to realize there is a need to combat male construction of history. Which is not the same as saying that I don’t love my father and can’t see that he was dependent upon the beliefs he possessed. But after all, I am a woman and I see things from the woman’s viewpoint.”

2. Witches’ Rings

This is the first volume in Women and the City, a series of four novels set in and around Katrineholm—the small, industrial town where Ekman grew up—as it grows from a village to a provincial city over the course of the twentieth century.

“I had read a lot of books that took place in important places. I was about seventeen, I suppose, and would go to the Stadsbibliotek at home in Katrineholm. When I reached the age when I began to really ingest literature, I devoured the books that came in volumes. The Forsythe Saga, for instance. Les Thibault by Roger Martin du Gard. That sort of thing. You might wonder how much a high-school student from Katrineholm got out of reading about the Catholic environment portrayed in a work like that. But I think it attracted me because the small town in which I grew up was rather dull. And so it came as something of a shock to me to read Eyvind Johnson’s Minnas because it was set in a town just like that. I thought: Aha, so you don’t have to write about Paris.”

Ekman’s female characters often must subordinate themselves to their gender. In this scene, which takes places in the early 1900s, thirteen year old Edla, a scullery maid at the local railway hotel, eavesdrops behind doors and is initiated into the biblical tale of the virgin birth, while biology is already at work to determine her fate.

“In the nineteenth century, woman was biologicalized completely. Our gray matter was insufficient for us to think, our brains weighed too little and Darwin saw woman as a midway stage between child and man. But the fact is that we do possess a biological destiny and it entails that we become pregnant and give birth—not forgetting the power of comfort and caring. We carry a very considerable heritage on our shoulders, not only historically, politically, and socially, but also biologically. It is a heritage with which we are saddled. And if we refuse to carry it, we lose much of our reality.”

3. The Knife-Thrower’s Woman

The biological destiny of women is a theme to which Ekman has returned often in her work. The Knife-Thrower’s Woman, her only published volume of poetry, is an intensely personal account of a young woman’s ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and subsequent hysterectomy. Suffering from depression after the operation, she descends in a mythic journey into the darkest recesses of herself in order to regain her life.

“Moa Martinson wrote about this subject in Sweden—the female body, she wrote, is as scarred as a runestone by pregnancy and childbirth. I remember an illustrious critic by the name of Anders Österling, whom I knew from my time in the Swedish Academy, reviewing one of her books and concluding: the perspective of the womb prevails here. The perspective of the womb! I had no idea he was capable of such an opinion. I was very fond of Österling but when I read that, it was as though something exploded in my mind. I immediately went upstairs to my study and dug out a manuscript I had decided never to publish. It became The Knife Thrower’s Woman, and I can assure you it is a book in which the perspective of the womb prevails! But to think: I had put it away in a cupboard, and I had put it there precisely because in that manuscript the perspective of the womb prevailed. Astonishing, don’t you think?”

I love Ekman’s description of compassion as that which is divine in the relationship between people: “How wondrous it is that some want to get up early / drink instant coffee, take the bus and soothe / or try to soothe the pain, to heal.”

4. Bring Me Back to Life

“I believe very strongly that literature begets literature. That’s how it works."

Although this novel—in which a group of women meet regularly for conversation in Stockholm during the 1990s—can be read independently, it is very much in conversation with Eyvind Johnson’s Krilon Suite trilogy. Written during World War II and fiercely critical of National Socialism, Johnson’s trilogy portrays the character of Johannes Krilon and the work carried out by his resistance cell.

“It was after I left the Academy. We had bought an apartment here in Stockholm and one evening we had friends round, a professor of literature and his wife. We got talking about Eyvind Johnson’s Krilon Suite, and the morning after I went out for a walk with the dog. I walked towards Bellevue with her. Silva was her name. The idea suddenly came to me as we were walking along. I wanted to write a book in which women make up a kind of resistance movement, just like the men of Johnson’s Krilon Suite. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and didn’t dare go home again. It was just welling up in me there and we kept on walking. Eventually the dog tired, although she was a hunting hound, but I felt no sense of fatigue at all. When we got home I sat down and filled eleven small notebooks. Afterwards, I was so exhausted I could have fainted.”

You also see another one of Ekman’s central themes—the significance of memory, for us as individuals and for the narrative—in this novel, the title of which refers obliquely to the “remember me” aria in Dido and Aeneas.

“I was thinking of remember as re-member or bring me back to life. It is a bit of falsified etymology, for I think that remember and member as in limb actually have different origins. Yet memory is indeed that which assembles a person’s limbs into a living gestalt. I find the thought fascinating—and besides, I’m getting closer and closer to the age of Oda. Actually I may have reached her age now.”

5. The Practice of Murder

This novel, set in the early twentieth century, depicts the motivations of a cynic with precision and, like Bring Me Back to Life, is also in conversation with another book—in this case, Hjalmar Söderberg’s novel Doctor Glas. Pontus Revinge, a young physician who earns his living from examining prostitutes for sexually transmitted diseases, he poisons his part-time employer, Dr. Johannes Harms, marries his widow, and takes over his victim’s practice and life. (He also nurtures an infatuation with their daughter).

“Although this chapter doesn’t exactly showcase its most attractive characters, it’s an entertaining book. I enjoyed writing it, but it also made my gorge rise. You see, I wanted to show where misogyny comes from.”

In this scene, Revinge who has recently murdered Harms, finds out that his widow plans to sell him the practice.

6. Scratchcards

This is the third volume in Ekman’s Wolfskin trilogy. Elis (aka Elias) Elv, who was a very young man when the trilogy opened, is now an elderly man, with many secrets. In the first excerpt below, we follow one of his many “crimes.” The essence of Scratchcards is how the past always catches up with us. In the second excerpt Risten, the Sami narrator of all three books, tells how her son Klemens killed a wolf. In the northernmost part of Sweden, the Samis are attempting in vain to preserve their traditional way of life as the laws of contemporary civilization are imposed on them. Klemens is trapped between tradition and modernity and marginalized, as are the Sami generally. The wolf, a pervasive symbol, begins and ends this trilogy, which spans the twentieth century.

7. The Con Game—Grand Finale

In her latest novel, Ekman describes the intertwined fates of two women: Lillemor Troj appears to be a well-known contemporary author who has won may literary prizes. Her friend Barbro (Babba) Andersson, however, turns out to be the real writer, but is convinced that she cannot live up to her status because of an unattractive exterior and an antisocial bent. Together, the two women enjoy a long, successful literary collaboration until Babba decides to come out of hiding. Lillemor has been a sort of mask for her, a position she now attacks by writing in secret and submitting to “their” publisher a manuscript revealing the truth.

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Dorthe Nors is the author of five books in her native Denmark, including the story collection Karate Chop, for which she received the 2014 Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize. She lives in Jutland.


A Public Space is an independent nonprofit publisher of an eponymous award-winning literary, arts, and culture magazine, and APS Books. Under the direction of founding editor Brigid Hughes since 2006, it has been our mission to seek out overlooked and unclassifiable work, and to publish writing from beyond established confines. Subscribe today, and join the conversation.


作家Kerstin Ekmanは、大分前にスウェーデンの文芸評論家が書いた「北欧文学素描」に出てくる。筆者による翻訳記事を読むはこちら→https://crocul.cocolog-nifty.com/callsay/2005/05/6_bad5.html


超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞 スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 47 余滴 続 再録など

約4年振りでノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル(トラン=鶴、ストロンメル=川の意味。さしずめ日本名は鶴川だろうか)氏の作品を読むを再読、少し訂正したりと手を入れた。トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品「わが回想」(英文タイトル : Memories look at me 記憶が私を見つめている。もともとは英文詩集『The Great Enigma」の付録)を改めて読んでみると幼少年期の記憶が鮮明で、その後の生き方を反映している出来事が散りばめられていて興味深かった。そのトーマス・トランストロンメル氏が今年の3月26日に死去した。心理学者として長らく更生施設で活動しながら詩作を続けてきたが、1990年はじめに脳梗塞で倒れ、後遺症で右手が麻痺、また失語症状態になった。それでも左手でピアノの鍵盤を叩いていたという。その腕前は相当なものだったー。この「わが回想」にも終わりの方にピアノの話が書かれている。社会の周辺で人々を救済する仕事に従事する一方で俳句にも親しみ、イメージ豊かで転調の効いた短い詩を数多く残した。この「わが回想」は、ノーベル文学賞受賞後に独立した形で英文版が出ている。


さて、この『わが回想』をページを追いながら実際に地図上を歩いてみよう。最初出てくるのは著者や母方の両親の住所、スウェーデンボリィ33番地、ブレーキンゲ通り、その後の転居先住所、フォルクンガ通り57番地、警察本部のあるクングスホルメン、ストックホルムのど真ん中で消えたところへトルイェット、家に帰る途中の橋ノルブロー 、旧市街ガムラスタンそしてスルッセンからセーデルへ、鉄道博物館のあるイエヴレ、国立歴史博物館通いでは路面電車でロスラグスツルまで、高台にある南ラテン中学校への通勤は家からビョルンの庭園、イェート通りやヘーベリィ通りを通って行く、というように該当の地名を一つ一つ蛍光ペンで記しながら追ってみた。著者の行動範囲が判って面白かった。そして印象に残った二ヶ所―ストックホルムのど真ん中で迷って家に帰るところや南ラテン中学校通勤のところ―の距離を大雑把だが試しに測ってみたのだが、結果的には想像していたより長い距離ではなかった。テキストの地名を地図上で当たり、行動範囲を描き、点→線→面に到達していく過程の面白味を味わった。ついでにインターネットでストックホルムの現在の映像を見て、夜のスルッセン辺りを確認したのだ。それにしても周りは大小の島々という多島海である。余談だが、近代的な建物と古い建物が混在しているような街並みの中に緑色に染められた公園が多いことに気づくと同時に、病院も多く存在していることも地図で判った。



追記 文中にある南ラテン上級中学校は現在の「南ラテン高校」Södra Latins gymnasium。
英語名 : upper secondary school ("gymnasieskola")。




超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 47 余滴 続々





韻律、韻律。先ほど書いたが、日本語はこの点難があるようだ。かつてフランス文学の先達(加藤周一、中村慎一郎、福永武彦、窪田啓作や原條あき子など)らが、『マチネ・ポエテック1948 』を発表、日本語による韻律詩の実験詩を書いたことがあった。また、法律家で詩人の中村稔氏はこの実験を続けている数少ない詩人である。

卒然と 旅人の前に立つ かの老いた
果てしなく拡がる枝角を 九月の海の
エイコ・デューク訳『悲しみのゴンドラ』(思潮社 2011年10月刊)P.89より





追記 トーマス・トランストロンメル氏は2015年3月26日に死去していた。筆者は3ヶ月後にその死をネットで知ったのだ。不覚である。しかも自分のブログで彼の記事がランキングされているのにー。あーあ。ご冥福を祈る。合掌。

追記2 下記はスウェーデ゜ンの新聞『8 Sidor』のトーマス・トランストロンメル氏の死を伝えた記事。

Tomas Tranströmer är död.

Författaren Tomas Tranströmer är död.
Han blev 83 år gammal.
Han har varit sjuk en tid
och på torsdagen dog han.

2011 fick Tomas Tranströmer Nobelpriset.
Han fick priset för sina dikter.
Det är många som tycker om hans dikter.
De har översatts till mer än 60 språk.

Det är bara sju svenska författare
som fått Nobelpriset i litteratur.
Innan Tomas Tranströmer fick priset
var det 37 år sedan
någon från Sverige fick priset.
Då fick författarna Eyvind Johnson
och Harry Martinson
ta emot priset tillsammans.
2015 - 03 - 27

Tomas Tranströmer begravdes

Författaren Tomas Tranströmer
dog för ett tag sedan.
På tisdagen begravdes han
i Storkyrkan i Stockholm.

Tomas Tranströmer är en
av världens mest kända författare.
Han skrev dikter som lästes
i många av världens länder.
Han fick Nobelpriset i Litteratur
år 2011.

Många kända författare
var i Storkyrkan för att
ta farväl av Tomas Tranströmer.

– Han har betytt mycket
för svensk diktning.
Han är vår största diktare
efter Gunnar Ekelöf,
sade författaren Per Wästberg.

2015 - 04 - 29


超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 48 余滴 続


さて、この『わが回想』をページを追いながら実際に地図上を歩いてみよう。最初出てくるのは著者や母方の両親の住所、スウェーデンボリィ33番地、ブレーキンゲ通り、その後の転居先住所、フォルクンガ通り57番地、警察本部のあるクングスホルメン、ストックホルムのど真ん中で消えたところへトルイェット、家に帰る途中の橋ノルブロー 、旧市街ガムラスタンそしてスルッセンからセーデルへ、鉄道博物館のあるイエヴレ、国立歴史博物館通いでは路面電車でロスラグスツルまで、高台にある南ラテン中学校通勤は家からビョルンの庭園、イェート通りやヘーベリィ通りを通って行く、というように該当の地名を一つ一つ蛍光ペンで記しながら追ってみた。著者の行動範囲が判って面白かった。そして印象に残った二ヶ所―ストックホルムのど真ん中で迷って家に帰るところや南ラテン中学校通勤のところ―の距離を大雑把だが試しに測ってみたのだが、結果的には想像していたより長い距離ではなかった。テキストの地名を地図上で当たり、行動範囲を描き、点→線→面に到達していく過程の面白味を味わった。ついでにインターネットでストックホルムの現在の映像を見て、夜のスルッセン辺りを確認したのだ。それにしても周りは大小の島々という多島海である。余談だが、近代的な建物と古い建物が混在しているような街並みの中に緑色に染められた公園が多いことに気づくと同時に、病院も多く存在していることも地図で判った。




超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 46 余滴

2011年10月始めにノーベル文学賞の発表があったが、日本ではあまり知られていない詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の本をノーベル文学賞発表のあとすぐに都内の洋書店へ駆け込んで予約、1週間くらいでアメリカから届いた。それが『The Great Enigma』。それとインターネットでスウェーデンの版元から直接手に入れたe-bookの原書をゲット。英訳本をたよりにスウェーデン語の原書を参照しながら(スウェーデン語では意外と手間隙かかるのではとの勝手な筆者の思いで)、その本に掲載されている「わが回想」の日本語訳を試みた。それから約3ヶ月かけてようやく1月28日に“私訳”を終えた。大半が朝の通勤電車内で携帯電話のメール機能を使って行った。原書で約40頁、英訳本で約25頁そして日本語“私訳”で約21頁(但しA4判)だ。


ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 45 最終回

私の彼に対するイメージが13世紀の人生を扱った中世ラテン語の授業のあと更に悪くなった。曇天の日だった。ボッケンは身体の調子が悪く怒りが爆発寸前だった。突然彼は質問を浴びせた。「エリック・ザ・レイム・リスパー」とは誰か?テキストでエリックを調べた。私が彼はグレン・シェッピング(註。元々は小さな街。風刺週刊紙、グレンシェッピングス ヴェッコブラッドによれば、街はエリック・ザ・レイム リスパーとして知られているが、エリック エリックソン王(1216-1250)が創設した)の創始者ですと答えた。これは重苦しい雰囲気を明るくするための私の発した咄嗟の行動だった。しかしボッケンの怒りはその時だけでは収まらず、学期末でさえまでも続いて、ついに「警告」を私に言い渡したのだった。これは簡単な家庭への伝言だった。生徒がラテン語の授業のようなケースで科目をさぼったことに対して使われたのだが。私の作文の点数はすべて高かったので、この「警告」はラテン語の実績というよりはむしろ人生になった。


超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 44

ボッケンは慢性的な関節炎を患っていて強く足を引きずっていた。早く動くのがやっとだった。彼は自分の鞄を机の上に投げ出していつもドラマチックに教室に入って来た。数秒後私たちは機嫌が良いか悪いかはっきりと判った。天気の状態が彼の気分に影響するからだった。ある冷たい日に彼の授業は全く快活そのものだった。低気圧に覆われていて雲が多いときには彼の授業は抑えがたい怒りの爆発で中断され、鈍くイライラした雰囲気の中でのろのろと授業が進められた。 彼は他のラテン語の先生と同じだと想像することすらできなかった。事実学校の先生より他に想像することは難しいと言われていたはずだ。最終学年の前年のコースで現代詩の自分の作品を製作中だった。私が古い詩を引用したと同時にまたラテン語の授業が戦争、元老院や執事官の歴史ものからカトウルスやホラチウスの詩に進んだときには、私はボッケンの支配する詩的世界に喜んで入ったのだ。

Aequam memento rebus in arduis
servare mentem, non secus in bonis
ab insolenti temperatam laetitia, morituri Delli

一つの気持ちでさえ…あー… 思い出して下さい、一つの気持ちに…いや、… 気難しい気持ちを持ち続けることが、そしてダメなら…あー…そしてこの、気持ちのいい…あー…極端な…あー…溢れている喜び、いつかは死ななきゃならないデリウス



超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 43




超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 42



超人の面白読書 90 ノーベル文学賞受賞者スウェーデンの詩人トーマス・トランストロンメル氏の作品を読む 41



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