Harry Martinson Leif SjöBerg - Essay

Harry Edmund Martinson

Leif SjöBerg

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

LEIF SJÖBERG

It remains to be seen if even a very considerable author like Harry Martinson will be able to make an impression on the English-speaking literary world—and, if not, it is not at all his fault …, yet it is beyond any discussion that he has been of great importance to the Swedish (and Scandinavian) literary world. Indeed, he has helped form a specific consciousness for an entire generation of his compatriots at large and not just the literary gourmets. (p. 478)

The storyline of The Road is occasionally extremely thin, and miraculously, as in folk tales, sometimes it disappears and becomes entirely invisible. What made The Road such a great success in Scandinavia and such an average affair in the English-speaking world? Part of the answer, no doubt, is Martinson's poetic language. He is a stylistic innovator comparable to Strindberg and an imaginative coiner of words…. Martinson's assertion that translation is impossible (?) is not entirely an exaggeration. Dealing with facts and subtleties, proceeding with his stories and meditations, in a most leisurely way, Martinson's book cannot possibly be read in a hurry, like an ordinary novel. The Road is a book one must read slowly, with pauses, and to which one must return as to a book of maxims….

Why did Martinson select a tramp as the main character [of The Road]? Possibly because in his rather extensive...

(The entire section is 490 words.)