Author: Fredrik Hertzberg

Live fast, die young

31 December 2006 | Authors, Reviews

Henry Parland

Henry Parland

Those whom the gods love die young: during the short lifetime of Henry Parland (1908–1930), Helsinki was culturally diverse city where many languages were spoken and young writers were inspired by new European trends.

Henry Parland represents a sort of opening in Finland-Swedish literature, an incursion of modernity, a breath of fresh air. He accomplished the task which the French Cubist Blaise Cendrars set himself in his poetry: ‘Les fénêtres de ma poésie sont grand’ouvertes sur les boulevards’ (‘The windows of my poetry are wide open on the boulevards’).

Several of the Finland-Swedish modernist writers of the early 20th century – most of whom lived in Helsinki – had a diverse linguistic background. ‘German is my best language,’ the poet Edith Södergran thought in 1920. She wrote her early work not only in Swedish, but also in German, Russian and French. Elmer Diktonius was bilingual, and wrote prose and poetry both in Finnish and in Swedish. Hagar Olsson, a writer and critic, switched at will between Swedish and Finnish. More…

Conserving memory

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

One could almost call Birgitta Boucht’s narrative style Chekhovian, even though the tales she tells in Konservatorns blick (‘The conservator’s gaze’) are not fictitious. The ‘gazes’ in these seemingly peripheral, marginal, trivial stories are all essentially rather similar; perhaps this is one aspect of what Boucht calls ‘the conservator’s gaze’: ‘When culture, society and our hopes for the future begin to crack, we automatically turn to our memories and examine them with a conservator’s gaze: at once tender and severe.’ Memories often contain a great deal which is both trivial and of little importance, yet it is precisely these banalities which can lead us to worlds filled with essential matters. More…