Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Uppsala version of Strindberg The Red Room ... Life in Uppsala

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"The sun was standing over the Liljeholm, throwing sheaves of rays towards the east; they pierced the columns of smoke of Bergsund, flashed across the Riddarfjörd, climbed to the cross of the Riddarholms church, flung themselves on to the steep roof of the German church opposite, toyed with the bunting displayed by the boats on the pontoon bridge, sparkled in the windows of the chief custom-house, illuminated the woods of the Liding Island, and died away in a rosy cloud far, far away in the distance where the sea was In days long past...". - August Strindberg, The Red Room (1879)

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Strindberg's Röda rummet (The Red Room) is a satiric novel of Stockholm society in the later 19th century. It's also a bookstore in Uppsala that I passed by earlier today. And, as a side, note, it's also a bar in Uppsala, that I didn't check out!

QotD: "In days long past, on the occasion of the Old Norse Festival at Upsala, he had proposed a toast in verse on woman, and thereby furnished an important contribution to the literature of the world" Strindberg

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"In days long past, on the occasion of the Old Norse Festival at Upsala, he had proposed a toast in verse on woman, and thereby furnished an important contribution to the literature of the world; it was printed in as many provincial papers as the author considered necessary for his immortality. This had made him a poet, and when he had taken his degrees, he bought a second-class ticket to Stockholm, in order to make his début in the world and receive his due. Unfortunately the Stockholmers do not read provincial papers. The young man was unknown and his talent was not appreciated. As he was a shrewd man—his small brain had never been exuberantly imaginative—he concealed his wound and allowed it to become the secret of his life." August Stringberg, The Red Room (1879)

God natt Uppsala, ser ut som regnet slutat

Three great howes, each rising some fifty-eight feet above the earthen floor / are seen from far across the well-tilled fenceless flats

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Three great howes, each rising some fifty-eight feet above the earthen floor and spreading more than two hundred feet upon it, are seen from far across the well-tilled fenceless flats, over which the wind blows clouds of dust. Many smaller mounds form a rude crescent stretching across the open plain with the great hills in the centre. They are doubtless the last resting-places of many kings about whose "howing" we read in the sagas. Though of old the capital of all the land, Upsala is but a tiny village now, so unimportant that it is known as Gamla (old) Upsala, for the neighbouring city of Ostra-aros (East mouth), whose cathedral spires are the most prominent features of the landscape, has usurped the proper name. 
The Kungshogar or Hills of Kings, as the three great tumuli have immemorially been called, are distinguished as those of Odin, Thor and Frey, but these detail names date from much more recent years. They were opened, Odin's in 1846, and Thor's in 1874. They proved to be of the first part of the Later Iron Age, that is the period just before Viking days. 
Capitals of the northlands, tales of ten cities (1914) by Ian C. Hannah, p.180

The picture above of of the three mounds, Thor (far left), Frey (middle), and Odin (right). In the photo below, you can see the spire of "new" Uppsala.


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QotD: "It is singular that / the Swedes / have produced no distinguished painters or composers -- but, indeed, a Linnæus."

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"I have seen, even beyond Umeå, some fine specimens of cactus, pelargonium, calla, and other exotics. It is singular that, with the universal passion of the Swedes for flowers and for music, they have produced no distinguished painters or composers -- but, indeed, a Linnæus." Northern Travel Summer and Winter Pictures of Sweden, Denmark and Lapland (1869) by Bayard Taylor 
Not true of course by our more 21st century standards! And Uppsala certainly has Linnaeus! Hotels, cafes, streets, etc., etc.

A few years earlier (and again in the 1870s), Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) was an American poet, literary critic, translator, and travel author. He published a couple of books on Egypt which is where I'd first heard of him when writing my book on Egyptian travel accounts, Nile Notes of a Howadji (1992).



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