Friday 18 February 2011

S is for Swedish Summer in Books - Mrs. Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday - S

Photo Copyright Christina Wigren 2010
S is for Swedish Summer

The obvious choice for me for S-week would seem to be Sweden, but it is such an enormous subject! I just have to narrow it down to the Swedish Summer* as depicted in literary texts.

I've been reading mystery/crime/detective stories. The latest one is the Swedish journalist turned mystery-writer, Mari Jungstedt's, I denna ljuva sommartid (2007) [Approximately: In Sweet Summer Time] in which a summer vacation-camper is murdered on his early morning jogging round, near a beach and thrown into the Baltic Sea. Another summer murder is commited in an earlier novel, Den inre kretsen [approximately: The Inner Circle], where a twenty-one year old female student of archeology becomes the first victim of a serial killer who is obsessed by the rites of the Norse gods - human sacrifice.

Mari Jungstedt is not the only Swedish mystery-writer who lets her characters meet a violent end in the short and sweet Swedish Summer. Anna Jansson is another Swedish queen of mysteries who lets bad things happen in the loveliest summer season in her novel Silverkronan (2003) [Approximately: The Silver Crown], set in the height of the summer medieval festival on the same Baltic island, Gotland, as Junstedt's murders.

The Internationally very well known Swedish author, Henning Mankell, also makes very, very bad things happen in a beautiful wooded area in Southern Sweden on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice in his crime novel, Steget efter (1997) [One Step Behind, English translation 2002].

Could it be that this is a way to publish all of those wonderful descriptions of wild flowers and the quality of light when then sun hardly sets that every writer and wannabe-writer jots down on their summer holiday/vacation?? There are often some good pieces of nature-prose stuck in between cold bodies being discovered behind bushes or found by little children playing on a beach or people out walking their dog. (These dog-walkers in mystery-stories deserve a post of their own!)

There are many, many more example of summer-literary-murders. (I'm not sure if this corresponds to real murders.) I've mention a few contemporary mystery novels, but I am sure that there are more to be found if you go back in time. Maybe what these authors secretly wish they could do is to write real poems about nature the way, for example, Harry Martinson did in this poem about a night in June. Read first the original text, if you can (it rhymes, the English version does not). My translation follows the original poem:


Nu går solen knappast ner,
bländar bara av sitt sken.
Skymningsbård blir gryningstimme
varken tidig eller sen.

Insjön håller kvällens ljus
glidande på vattenspegeln
eller vacklande på vågor
som långt innan de ha mörknat
spegla morgonsolens lågor.

Juni natt blir aldrig av,
liknar mest en daggig dag.
Slöjlikt lyfter sig dess skymning
och bärs bort på ljusa hav.


"Night in June"
by Harry Martinson
translated by Christina Wigren

In June, the sun just barely sets,
only slightly dimming its glow,
Twilight-line turns quickly into dawn,
being neither early or late.

The pond holds the evening light,
letting it glide upon a watery mirror,
or riding on a rimple,
that lasts long before they darken,
and reflects the flames of the morning sun.

Night in June never really falls,
resembles more a misty morn.
In veils it lifts away the twilight,
upon shimmering seas.
Best wishes,

First Commenter:
New Blessing Everyday

To visit more posts about the letter S, please go to Mrs. Jenny Matlock's site Off My Tangent here or click on the image below:

Jenny Matlock

*My apologises to all of you folks living in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland as well as the other islands in the North Atlantic, Finland, the Baltic states and the other northern parts of the former Soviet Union; as you people all know what a long dark winter is. A northern summer is to be found in other places than Sweden!

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