|About the Book|
Gunnar Ekelöf was a Swedish poet and writer. He was a member of the Swedish Academy from 1958. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy by Uppsala University in 1958. He won a number of prizes for his poetry.Life and WorksGunnar Ekelöf has been described as Swedens first surrealist poet- he made his debut with the collection sent på jorden (late on earth) in 1932, a work (written during an extended stay in Paris in 1929-30) that was too unconventional to become widely appreciated and which the author described as capturing a period of suicidal thoughts and apocalyptic moods. It was, in a sense, an act of literary revolt akin to Edith Södergrans Septemberlyran a dozen years earlier. While not disavowing his debut, Ekelöf moved towards romanticism and received better reviews for his second poetry collection Dedikation (1934). Both of his first two volumes are strongly influenced by surrealism and show a violent, at times feverish torrent of images, deliberate breakdown of ordered syntax and traditional poetic language and a defiant spirit bordering on anarchism (cut your belly cut your belly and dont think of any tomorrow runs the black humorous refrain of a poem called fanfare in sent på jorden, which collection does away with the use of upper case letters). This defiant outsiderhood was grounded in his person- though he came from an upper-class background, Ekelöf had never felt committed to it - his father had been mentally ill and when his mother remarried, Ekelöf strongly disapproved of his stepfather and, by extension, of his mother who had let him in: he became a loner and a rebel already in his teens - and would never feel at ease with the mores of the established upper and middle classes or with their inhibitions and, as he perceived it, hypocrisy and back-scratching. Swedish critic Anders Olsson described Ekelöfs turn to poetry as a choice of the only utterance that doesnt expurge the contradictions and empty spaces of language and of the mindFärjesång (1941), a finely expressed blend of romanticism, surrealism, and the dark clouds of the ongoing war spelled a mark of maturity and would influence later Swedish poets, as would his debut over time. From this point on, his transformations of style and imagery, his deep familiarity with a wide array of literary idioms, stretching far beyond modern writing, and an almost Bob Dylan-like propensity to make fresh departures in his writing and challenge critics readings of his work in order to keep true to it, made him one of the most influential and, in time, widely read of Scandinavian modernist poets, a kind of father figure and challenging and inspiring model for many later writers not just in Sweden but also in Denmark and Norway. He has been translated into many languages and is a living classic of 20th century Swedish poetry.