Movies: Ingmar Bergman
Plays: August Strindberg
Books: My Life as a Dog, Reidar Jonsson, Hash by Torgny Lindgren, Blackwater by Kerstin Ekma
Long ago, I loved to go to art film houses and watch Ingmar Bergman films. It was in my highly emotional, love to be sad and swoony stage. Ingmar Bergman was a genius and broke new ground in movies, but despite some beautiful scenes, his work was undeniably gloomy overall. So my first picture of Sweden was of a place where well-to-do people lived sad lives where no one spoke to each other much and no one could be trusted. In fact, although circumspect in public behavior, Swedes have a lot of fun. I learned this in a visit to a more humble country house than those filmed by Ingmar in films like Wild Strawberries.
At the same time that I was watching nouveau cinema I was reading a lot of plays for theater classes, and made the acquaintance of August Strindberg, who also took life very seriously, to say the least. He struck out in new directions, and his play Miss Julie stoked the fires of feminism in my impressionable youth. When I visited Stockholm, I visited the Strindberg Museum in a spare apartment in downtown Stockholm. He led a chaotic life, took some surprising photographs and broke new ground in literature. I was somewhat surprised to find that the Swedish people I knew thought highly of him, since he was so iconoclastic, and civic life in Sweden, although cheerful, seems restrained by behavioral rules.
R. Todd Felton who writes about travel and books, replied in response to my request for suggestions for books for 10 Places. Earlier we had suggestions for travel literature on Scotland from Alasidair Pettinger and books for Vietnam suggested by Andrea Ross and more books for Vietnam suggested by Travelers’ Bro.
Felton suggests three books to add to the traveler’s library for Sweden.
“Sweden has some great literature in translation. I have a lot of family in Sweden and they set me up with wonderful books.
- My Life as a Dog, Reidar Jonsson’s equally funny and sad novel of a child growing up in Sweden.
- Hash, Torgny Lindgren’s touching story of two men searching for the perfect dish of Swedish hash in post WWII Sweden.
- Blackwater, by Kerstin Ekma – a great murder mystery in the north of Sweden. Some scary stuff.”
Thanks, Todd. I have had My Life as a Dog on my list, both as a book to read and as a movie to see. You have pushed me closer to actually following through. And I always love good mystery books to establish a sense of place. Although I still like Bergman and Strindberg, perhaps I should read something a bit more current.
How about all of you? Your turn to join the discussion, make recommendations, or argue with our ideas for books, plays and movies for the traveler to Sweden.
Photograph by Malin Göteman, from the Flicker Stream of Sweden.se. Click on the photo to see their other photos