Cover of Vol 51 No 2, 2012Vol 51 No 2, 2012

Nordic Publishing and Book History: Celebrating Scandinavica's 50-year Jubilee 1962-2012


Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen

(University College London)

Nordic Publishing and Book History: An Introduction

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Janet Garton

(University of East Anglia)

Scandinavica: The First Fifty Years 1962-2012

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Ann Steiner

(Lund University)

The Book Trade Expansion: Books and Publishers in Sweden, 1945-1970


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. 

Karl Berglund

(Uppsala University)

Detectives in the Literary Market: Statistical Perspectives on the Boom in Swedish Crime Fiction


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.

Jan Dlask and Lenka Fárová

(Charles University in Prague)

Finnish Literature in the Heart of Europe, after the Fall of the Iron Curtain


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. 

Monica Wenusch

(University of Vienna)

Johannes V. Jensen: Made in Germany


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. 

Petra Broomans

(University of Groningen/Ghent University)

The Hangman by Pär Lagerkvist in the Netherlands: Politics and the Personal


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. 

Anne Myrup Munk

(Aarhus University)

Pretty in Pink for the Ladies and Light Blue for the Intellectuals: The Book Jacket as a Statement Accessory


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. 

Charlotte Berry

(University of Edinburgh)

The Wonderful Adventures of Floris Books: Swedish Children’s Books from 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.

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Edel Sheridan-Quantz

(Hannover, Germany)

Bilderbuch - Billedbog - Picture book: International Connections in Carl Stender's Early Picture Book Production


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.

Anne Bachmann

(Stockholm University)

Souvenirs from the Selma Lagerlöf silent film adaptations: How 'beautiful' book editions and prestige cinema collaborated in Swedish visual culture around 1920


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.

Bjarne Thorup Thomsen

(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.

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Sofia Kotilainen

(University of Jyväskylä)

An Early Spokesman for a Vernacular Literature: Matti Taipale, farmer, librarian and a promoter of Finnish culture in nineteenth-century Finland


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.

Jyrki Hakapää

Book Market over State Frontiers in the Age of Nationalism: Swedish Publishers' and Finnish Book Sellers' Co-dependence between 1840 and 1860


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. 

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Anne-Kari Skarðhamar

(Oslo and Akershus University College)

'Critical Tact and Educational Intuition'?: Literary Criticism in Faroese Journals


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

Comment and Debate

Elettra Carbone, Marita Fraser and Jesper Hansen


Learning Through Publishing: Norvik Press and Student Publishing at UCL

When Norvik Press Ltd moved to UCL it became clear from the start that the press was not only going to be physically located within the department, but also play a pivotal role in finding new ways of engaging the students with Scandinavian publishing. Its presence within one of only two remaining departments of Scandinavian Studies in the UK opened the possibility of collaborations not only with colleagues but also with students. But the possibility of collaborating with staff and students also went beyond language specialism: thanks to its range of activities Norvik could potentially collaborate with several other UCL departments, of which Information Studies is a good example.

Although the press was originally established in the 1980s – long before concepts such as ‘impact’, ‘enterprise’ and ‘public engagement’ became crucial within the UK research environment – Norvik’s activities seemed to fit perfectly with UCL’s strategy to support and encourage a more active and two-way collaboration between enterprise and the teaching and research environment.

In this short piece we wish to present some of the activities that created and consolidated a constructive collaboration between UCL and Norvik Press, and present some reflections on how small publishing companies specialising in the humanities can feed into the curricular activities of a university. Having presented some of the activities in which Norvik has been involved as a main collaborator in order to support the new generation of translators and designers, we will then report on a number of ‘spin-offs’, namely initiatives that were inspired by the presence of the press at UCL. How can small publishing companies like Norvik Press contribute to the teaching/
learning environment?

The Making of Norvik Press Ltd

Norvik is a small publishing company that publishes translations of Nordic classics into English and critical literature in English about various aspects of Nordic literature and culture. Norvik also publishes two journals that come out twice a year, Scandinavica, an International Journal of Scandinavian Studies and Swedish Book Review. The press started off at the University of East Anglia (UEA), not as a company but as a series of activities around publishing that arose as part of the research carried out within but also outside the Dept of Scandinavian Studies at UEA. The very first publishing project was the journal Scandinavica, started in 1962, which was followed by the very first critical book in 1985 and the very first translation in 1986. It was only in 2003 that Norvik incorporated under its umbrella of activities the journal Swedish Book Review, a publication that had been independently designed and printed since 1979. The move to UCL in 2010 coincided with a great number of technological changes. In the course of this transition phase Norvik started to explore new forms of publishing. The press opted for Print on Demand and is in the process of creating its first podcast publication and will soon release its first e-book.

This process of innovation and change became somewhat easier thanks to the support of UCL Advances, which supported the press in exploring the mutual benefits arising from the collaboration between universities and small publishing companies specialising in the humanities. Norvik Press was able to pass on knowledge acquired from its range of activities thanks to a workshop called Book Camp. This two-day workshop had the aim of providing a hands-on introduction to desktop publishing for academic and support staff, students, social enterprises, and anyone else who wished to develop their skills in producing professional-looking publications on a budget. The workshop constituted a combination of theory and practice of publishing where Norvik Press real-life material was used as a case study to discuss marketing, layout, new technologies, etc. The workshop was only the beginning of a number of publishing initiatives that lead to new Norvik publications led by students, but also to a new post designed to support publishing activities and a magazine project.

Lagerlöf in English and Strindberg’s One-Act Plays: Engaging the Students with New English Translations of Swedish Classics 

Book Camp emphasised how Norvik Press could pass on a number of transferable skills that were clearly in demand among staff and students. A natural next step was therefore to find ways in which students could be involved in the process of creating books and/or magazines.

The first project was linked to Norvik’s commitment to fostering the next generation of translators from Swedish into English. This project was led by UCL Impact PhD student, Agnes Broomé. As part of the celebrations for the Strindberg 2012 centenary, Norvik Press decided to publish a selection of Strindberg’s one-act plays in new English translations: Båndet (The Bond), Den fredlöse (The Outlaw), Innenför döden (Facing Death) and Samum (Simoom). These plays were selected and translated by a team of early-career translators (Agnes Broomé, Anna Holmwood, John K Mitchinson, Mathelinda Nabugodi, Anna Tebelius and Nichola Smalley), mentored by experienced translators. This innovative approach to developing and sustaining Swedish-English translation grew out of the UCL Impact PhD Studentship scheme, with the support of the Barbro Osher Foundation, the Swedish Academy and Mr Stefan Olsson. Thanks to this project the PhD students involved were able to follow and take part in every step of the book production. They were able to make decisions and take responsibility for their choices while being guided and supervised by in-house expertise.

Although the Strindberg project was one of Norvik’s most comprehensive collaborations with staff and students, this hasn’t been the only one. The Lagerlöf series has so far been connected to projects aiming at fostering the new generation of designers and artists. The book covers for the series were the result of a competition run in collaboration with Beckmans designhögskola in Stockholm and initiated thanks to the initiative of the then cultural attaché Carl Otto Werkelid at the Embassy of Sweden in London. The school was given the task of creating a range of modern covers for the first three books in the series (Lord Arne’s Silver, The Phantom Carriage and The Löwensköld Ring). The task was made into a short course for interested students: they had to learn about Selma Lagerlöf and read the three books, while at the same time familiarising themselves with the basics of how to create and design a book cover. The result of this competition was more than 10 sets of covers which were brought to London and judged by a team consisting of representatives from the Embassy, the translators and Norvik Press representatives. All the covers were later exhibited at Kurturhuset in Stockholm.

A second competition was run in 2012 for the illustrations of Norvik’s new translation of Nils Holgersson’s Wonderful Journey through Sweden. Like with the book covers, Norvik Press wanted to involve emerging professionals in the process of creating a new look for this Swedish classic. For this reason, the press organised a new competition: aspiring illustrators had to create two sample illustrations based on a sample translation of the first three chapters of the first volume of Nils Holgersson. To ensure that the illustrations would be ready in time for the publication, a careful schedule was drawn up, and the illustrators had to agree to follow it in order to enter the competition. Once again, like with the covers, the aim of the competition was to give students the opportunity to get a taste of a real publishing project resulting in a real publication.

Framed Horizons: Engaging Students with Nordic Cinema

In 2012 Norvik Press published its first book of student writing where undergraduate and graduate students were involved in the editing and peer-reviewing process. The book is called Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema and is an anthology of essays written by BA, MA and PhD students of Nordic Cinema at UCL. Seventeen students were involved in this publication: fifteen authors, three of whom were also editors. Students were assisted by Dr Claire Thomson, Senior Lecturer in Scandinavian Film, and Marita Fraser, Production Assistant for Norvik Press.

Framed Horizons was initiated as a test case to explore whether it might be possible to offer students a publishing project as an optional commitment that would provide them with real world experience in publishing. Dr Claire Thomson felt it was a shame that excellent essays were stored in a filing cabinet after being written and marked, and was convinced that there was some value to them being given another life as a published anthology. These essays were not only informative and presented very interesting case studies in the field of Film Studies, they also constituted excellent examples of how to write a good essay with a well-written film analysis. This project offered all the student authors the opportunity to review and reflect on their writing, and gave the editors an experience in peer reviewing as well as the other aspects of a publishing project.

The anthology was produced using Booktype, an online opensource publishing software developed by Sourcefabric, which allows all contributors to follow the progress of the publication in real time. Using this software, authors can edit their own piece as well as peer review and suggest changes to other articles. As a collaborative publishing tool, Booktype proved ideal for this project and other publishing activities developed within the university environment. While contributors and editors were editing the content, the design and layout of the book were developed in parallel by Marita Fraser. Booktype creates, in fact, an html container for the publication, which, at the end of the project, can be output in different formats (such as print pdf and e-book).

Framed Horizons was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair as part of the Digital Innovation Sparks Stage events. Three students involved in the project were able to take part in the Q&A session presenting the publication to the public. While the book was the tangible outcome produced by this project, this was accompanied by a number of learning outcomes that gave the students an entirely new set of skills and experiences that could not have been developed in the traditional classroom environment. Not only were they given the possibility to review and improve upon their own writing through reflection, peer reviewing and close as well as remote collaboration with other fellow students. They also gained an insight into the publishing process, leaving the university with published writing, experience in editing a publication and a physical tangible outcome, a book.

Danish Review: Engaging Students with Danish Culture

In 2011 Jesper Hansen, Teaching Fellow in Danish, found a new way to create a specialised ‘space’ where students taking courses in Danish language could engage with different aspects of Danish culture. Most of the students at UCL spend only limited time on Danish topics outside the language classes. Danish Review, a magazine with contributions by undergraduate and graduate students, provided a much needed Danish ‘space’ and aimed to create a balance between the general (Scandinavian Studies and SELCS, School of European Languages and Cultures) and the specific (Danish language and culture).

As with Framed Horizons and all other publishing projects mentioned so far, students were able to gain an insight into the publishing processes behind the creation of a magazine. Besides having to write original pieces that could be read by the general public, students were involved in the reviewing and feedback processes and were encouraged to find suitable illustrations for their pieces – all highly transferable skills which would enhance the students’ CVs, giving them a set of experiences that they would not necessarily obtain by successfully fulfilling the requirements of a BA or MA course.

The idea of achieving all these outcomes through the magazine format came from Norvik Press’s presence and support within the Department of Scandinavian Studies. Initially the journal Swedish Book Review was a great inspiration, and, to a great extent, its structure and layout has influenced Danish Review. Swedish Book Review, edited by Dr Sarah Death, publishes excerpt translations of new Swedish fiction as well as reviews of new titles. This niche was, however, already occupied by Danish Literary Magazine, published by the Danish Arts Council and targeted to publishers, writers and translators. While Swedish Book Review thus influenced the structure adopted by Danish Review, the content and style of the magazine was shaped by the earlier UCL publication Sophia – the UCL magazine for academic journalism, initiated by Ed Long in 2008 (see – and by the widespread public engagement culture in the Department of Scandinavian Studies. With the massive success enjoyed by events organised under the auspices of the Nordic Noir Book Club – led by Dr Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Senior Lecturer in Scandinavian Literature at the Department of Scandinavian Studies, UCL – it had become clear that the interest in the Nordic countries shared by a large number of members of the general public went beyond crime fiction. Danish Review therefore came to occupy a space in-between journalism and academic writing, allowing for both serious academic articles (see for instance ‘Danish New Simplicity’ in Danish Review 2012) and more journalistic pieces (see for example ‘Coffee Culture’ in Danish Review 2013).

With the 2013 issue, Marita Fraser introduced the use of Booktype, this time not as a publishing tool, but as a platform where all students involved in the magazine could work on all contributions at the same time. Booktype allowed several students to comment on each other’s work while being supervised by a member of staff. One important effect of this was a shift in the way students experienced the creation of the magazine: the process became just as important as the end result, as students could follow the progress of the publication live. To sum up, the magazine format offers an array of possibilities and develops a number of technical skills, but most of all it gives students the possibility of reflecting on the implications of writing not for a grade but to inform and entertain a real audience.

The Future of Student Publishing...

The projects described in this piece are just some of the new possibilities for future innovation and collaboration with colleagues and students that Norvik Press has been exploring in the past few years. Norvik Press is today part of a university and, while it certainly needs to continue its publishing activities, it has also developed an important pedagogical role: it can provide students with skills and experiences that are related to their studies but that they would not have been able to gain had they not been involved in collaborations run by a real independent publisher.


Broome, A. and N. Smalley (2012): ‘Strindberg’s One-Act Plays Mark One Hundred Years’ in Swedish Book Review 2012: 2, pp. 66-67.

Danish Review (2012): (Last Accessed 14 November 2013)

Danish Review (2013): (Last Accessed on 14 November 2013)

Strindberg, A. (2012): August Strindberg’s One Act Plays: A Selection, translated by Agnes Broome et alii. London: Norvik Press. Thomson, C. C. et alii (eds.) (2012): Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema. London: Norvik Press.

Trethewey, K. (2012): ‘Launching Framed Horizons: Student Writing on Nordic Cinema’  in (Last Accessed on 14 November 2013).


Photo Credits

Cover image: Norvik Press Logo, tapestry by Kathleen McFarlane, courtesy of Prof Janet Garton.