Vol 51 No 2, 2012
Nordic Publishing and Book History: Celebrating Scandinavica's 50-year Jubilee 1962-2012
(University College London)
Nordic Publishing and Book History: An IntroductionRead Full Article
(University of East Anglia)
Scandinavica: The First Fifty Years 1962-2012Read Full Article
The post-war years were a time of expansion in Swedish publishing. The economy was growing, people became better educated, the rise of a large middle-class meant new costumers, new publishing and sales strategies added to the increasing market, and overall there was higher sales, more titles published and more people reading. Despite the success story there has been hardly any research done on the overall publishing structures of the period and the proposed article is an attempt to map ‘who did what’ in publishing. Four main aspects are considered in the article: published titles (statistics, translations, genres), material aspects (publishing formats, the importance of the paperback), the publishing houses (general structures, the position and strategies of the Publisher’s Association), and the market (very briefly on the relation to readers, sales, book trade etc.).
The article argues that the 25 years after the war were a golden age in Swedish publishing, a short phase, which is still regarded today as emblematic for the ‘good’ trade.
Crime novels from Scandinavia are commercial successes all over the world. In Sweden, the dominance of the crime genre on the book market is even more significant. According to Swedish book trade magazine Svensk Bokhandel, twelve of the top twenty books in the bestseller charts of fiction in 2010, were domestic crime novels. This has started intensive debates, where crime novels are blamed for out-competing other genres.
Domestic crime fiction has had a commanding position of the commercial side of Swedish publishing business in the 2000s, but this has not always been the case. When did this literary genre-takeover take place? How did it take place? How can it be explained? Even though some research concerning Scandinavian crime fiction has been carried out over the last couple of years, no one has mapped the book market phenomenon as such. This article aims to fill this gap by offering a neutral and extensive description on the role and position of crime fiction in Swedish publishing between 1977 and 2010.
(Charles University in Prague)
Translating from small literatures into a small language has specific mechanisms. This is even more true for countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which in the late 1980s underwent great changes. In this case study, which follows up on the topic of former studies, the authors concentrate on the Finnish literature translated for the Czech book market after 1989. Finnish literature is understood only as published Finnish language fiction, poetry and drama. This study uses traditional chronological, statistical and comparative methods, but is also inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of literary field. A field of literary production, having two polarities (commercial/intellectual pole; young/old age), is enetered into by translators and publishers, who have their own strategies and capital (economical, cultural, social, educational, symbolical), and who select writers and books from a certain space of possibilities.
(University of Vienna)
It is a fact that many Scandinavian writers from around 1900 until the 1920s – names such as Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg at the top of the list come to mind – revelled in popularity in the German-speaking countries and here were able to ‘survive’ as canonised authors. The public interest in literature from Scandinavia was enormous, alone the fact that being a Scandinavian writer was often enough to provoke the interest of the readers.
The aim of this article is to show the strategies in marketing Johannes V. Jensen in Germany and the resulting dynamics of these strategies here compared with Denmark, where special branding did not take place and where the author’s profile was profoundly different from the one in Germany. This article also includes a look at the reception of Jensen in Germany, which, however, is not limited to ‘common’ readers, but includes a wide range of recognised German-speaking authors who have acknowledged Jensen’s literary merits.
(University of Groningen/Ghent University)
In this contribution the debate in the Netherlands in 1935 on the play The Hangman by the Swedish author Pär Lagerkvist will be discussed. The article shows also the various steps in the transfer history and the influence of politics on decisions in the cultural transfer process regarding the performance of The Hangman. Furthermore, the debate about the play provides material to scrutinise a myth in the Dutch reception of Scandinavian literature. The Dutch critic Menno ter Braak (1902-1940) was one of the actors who contributed to the unsuccessful cultural transfer of The Hangman in the Netherlands. The analysis shows that Ter Braak might have had personal reasons for his critique on the play. Though he is known as a critic who was in favour of modernism, his romantic view on Nordic literature became posthumously a ‘Blood and soil literature’ image after World War II.
This article compares the Danish first and second edition of Mara Lee’s novel Ladies which were published by Rosinante shortly after one another in 2007 and 2008 with two radically different book jackets. The article analyses the books as visual objects which influence our understanding of both the paratexts (the thresholds of interpretation) and of the literary text itself. The first edition of Ladies was a gaudy pink, labelled ‘intellectual chick lit’. The article traces how this sparked a public debate about the tendency to trivialise ‘women’s literature’ and demonstrates that the debate manifestly influenced the layout of the second edition of Ladies. Finally, the article questions whether it is the genre hybrid ‘intellectual chick lit’ that trivialises women’s literature or, more generally, the intellectual milieu.
(University of Edinburgh)
This article addresses the theme of Nordic books abroad: Floris Books is the most prolific publisher of Scandinavian children’s books in the United Kingdom. This innovative paper will detail the history of the press, its publishing philosophy for children’s fiction and adult non-fiction, and the continued dedication of Floris Books to promote high-quality and ‘wholesome’ Swedish and other European children’s literature to a British and international audience.
While addressing issues such as author, text and translator selection, and editorial and financial considerations, this article casts light on the press’s contribution to promoting Swedish children’s literature to a wide and growing audience.
Recent research on the late nineteenth and early-twentieth century picture book production of an almost forgotten but significant printer-publisher from Germany, A. Molling & Comp. of Hanover, fortuitously revealed connections between this company, Carl Stenders Kunstforlag in Copenhagen, and an early ‘global player’, the English publisher Raphael Tuck. This article presents facets of this research illuminating the newly discovered international connections utilised for Stender’s early picture book production. It highlights the potential returns from intensified research into the history of Danish picture book production in general and these international aspects in particular. On the basis of the evidence discussed here, a working hypothesis concerning some of the mechanisms of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century transnational picture book publishing in Europe is proposed. It is also suggested that the influence of international mass-producers of picture books like Tuck or Nister on national production has been underestimated.
From 1917 to 1930, several of Selma Lagerlöf’s literary works that were adapted into films in Sweden were reissued in editions illustrated with film stills. The article analyses these book editions in relation to the cinema programme booklet, placing them within the double context of Swedish publishing and cinema culture, and arguing that increased expenses associated with World War I generated this finely tuned interaction between book and film production. Through the lens of media materiality, this particular piece of cross-media print culture questions the boundaries between visual and printed media, unveiling the connections between the ‘golden’ era of ‘quality’ film production in Sweden around the 1920s and the stable impact of Selma Lagerlöf in Sweden through continuous publication and re-publication.
(University of Edinburgh)
Text, Traffic and Transnational Thought: Perspectives on prose publications by Selma Lagerlöf in periodicals and anthologies, with particular reference to 'En emigrant' (1914), 'Lappland-Schonen' (1917) and the First World War period
The article explores the substantial segment of Selma Lagerlöf’s production that was published in periodicals, journals, magazines and anthologies, including international outlets, with a particular focus on the period around the First World War. The article argues that a significant proportion of the author’s output from this period shares an interest in probing the validity of a singular national or nationalist perspective. The article goes on to examine two such instances, in which transnational thought informs or supplements the depiction of nation-wide travel in prose texts that originally formed part of publications which themselves constitute examples of the European transmission of Lagerlöf’s writing. The article concludes by briefly reflecting on another strand of Lagerlöf’s minor prose published in periodicals or anthologies in the same period, the socalled Sentiments from the War Years.
(University of Jyväskylä)
This article utilises a micro-historical approach to examine the exceptional life-work of a peasant farmer called Matti Taipale (1825–1868) from Central Finland. Taipale was an important local ‘cultural force’ and a collector of books as well as the founder of the lending library of his home parish of Saarijärvi in 1857. Focusing on Taipale’s representative example of a peasant working as librarian, collector, reader and writer of poetry and other texts, this article explores history from the viewpoint of the peasantry of the remote countryside. This perspective challenges the traditional national histories, which usually only study the autodidact writers of the more prosperous southern Finnish parishes and towns and the influences they received from members of the educated classes.
The period 1840–1860 includes a series of events that Finnish historians have generally interpreted as a break from a dependency on the European book market in order to create a domestic book market. This article shows how, despite the efforts to create a national culture, the Finnish book market continued to depend on sales of foreign books throughout the period. The case study demonstrates how, in an international setting, the central actors of the Nordic book market had to adjust to the demands of the periphery. Only when facing a serious crisis due to the absence of international trade connections, did Finnish publishers and book sellers make an effort to create a domestic book market.
(Oslo and Akershus University College)
Until the middle of the 1930s Faroese literary criticism tended to judge a literary text solely on the basis of its effect on the cultural situation of the country and the programme of nation building. The scholar and poet Christian Matras broke this norm in 1936 in a hard-hitting review based on aesthetic criteria. The debate in the 1930s raised the question of whether standards for literary criticism should be the same in a geographic and linguistic ‘periphery’like the Faroe Islands as in the Nordic or European centres.
This article provides an outline of the development of literary criticism in Faroese journals of culture and literature. The questions elucidated concern Faroese literary criticism in the service of nation-building and in a Nordic context, the profiles of the journals, the question of standards for literary evaluation and the modes of presentation of literary criticism. Key words