A greeting from our friends Monica and Tomas Tranströmer who gives us his permission to include his cycle of poems “Baltics” in the Baltic Sea Library (the first Swedish text proposed by Clas Zilliacus):

“Tomas tycker att utkastet till Östersjöbiblioteket ser väldigt snyggt ut.

Östersjöbiblioteket är ett så intressant projekt att det vore tråkigt
om det strandar på ekonomin!

Tomas har alltid frihet att skänka bort texter. Citaträtten kan ni ju alltid använda er av och jag gissar att det gäller också översättningar.

Vi kommer just hem från Runmarö där försommaren är ljuvlig!

Allt gott
Tomas & Monica

As English-language editor for the Baltic Sea Library, it’s my job to knock everyone’s commentaries into shape before they are put online. In some cases this has been easy, partly because a few texts have turned out to be remarkably similar to the Wikipedia articles on the relevant authors/books (!), partly because texts have been relatively well-written. For any misinterpretations on my part when commentators’ English has not been equal to their more complex ideas, I apologize―at least a little bit.

Like translation, editing text means working at the level of the single word, phrase and sentence. It’s easy to miss the big picture when a lot of different texts are involved. Recently I began to realize that I was starting to lose sight of what this project is really about. By this, I mean that I was starting to see the Baltic as a body of water rather than a region. As a result some commentators may have received slightly annoying editorial comments from me urging them to somehow relate their texts to the Baltic as a sea. Of course, this is a very limited view of “Balticness.” As an Australian who grew up on the Great Southern Ocean and the Pacific, the image of the sea implanted in my mind is of a vast barrier separating my country from the rest of the world. Of course, the Baltic is really just a puddle compared to these mighty oceans, but that is what makes it so interesting as a “pool” of interconnections and shared aspects of identity. It seems to me that all contributors to the project could give some more thought to this “shared” aspect―because if this site is to become more than just a repository of interesting individual texts, it needs to offer users a greater sense of why these texts are being compiled together and interlinked. In fact, it has become clear to me in the editing process that the “Balticness” aspect commentators have been asked to comment on really is the key category because what it aims to do is embed texts and authors in a cultural-historical process that the BSL is trying to discern on a regional level. This is what the project, to my mind, is really about. However, so far, despite some extremely detailed and in some cases very lengthy analyses of individual works, this “Balticness” section is the one that commentators have contributed the least to.

Some of the questions that occur to me in this regard: Could Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales be related to wider political and cultural developments in Denmark and Scandinavia, the decline of Denmark as a major power, the rise of romantic nationalism and the emphasis on “folk” culture (I’m not a scholar, these are just general ideas)? Could the Icelandic sagas be discussed more in terms of their role as the founding myths of a period of Scandinavian expansionism? And what about the Pushkin and Lermontov as critics of entrenched Russian authoritarianism? Weren’t these authors looking out from Saint Petersburg across the Baltic and drawing ideas from developments in Germany and other countries? What is the resonance of a poet like Akhmatova in Baltic states under Stalin’s fist?

As I said, these are general questions from an outsider, but also a potential, non-scholarly user of the BSL as a resource. I think that a further aspect of the project could involve a series of “bridges” in the form of comparative essays that link texts and authors in the framework of themes of regional relevance. Anyway, apologies for any misleading editorial suggestions. That for now is my two cents/pfennigs/öre/kopeks/groszy worth.

J. O’D
Ritva Hapuli wrote:
“onpa hyvä uutinen. Minusta saksa olisi tärkein kieli.”
on my question:
“mal angenommen, wir bekommen die Rechte für die Erzählung von Aino Kallas – in welche Sprache sollte man sie übersetzen lassen? Dafür könnten wir 1 Stipendium in Ventspils ausloben”.

So Ritva would propose Aino Kallas’ tale “The White Ship from  Lasnamäe” to be translated to German.

And Polina wrote from St. Petersburg that in her opinion Lermontov is too little translated, so we should support different translations of him.

In cooperation with the International Writers and Translators’ House in Ventspils we can now offer 5 scholarships to start with.
The proposed texts to be translated are:
1. Aino Kallas, Lasnamäen valkea laiva (Finnish) → German
2. Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest (German) → Icelandic
3. Bragi Ólafsson, Sendiherrann (Icelandic) → Lithuanian: Jurgita Marija Abraityte
4. Sigitas Geda, Poems (Lithuanian) → Finnish
5. Friedebert Tuglas, Noorusmälestused (Estonian) → Swedish: Heidi Granqvist
6. Tomas Tranströmer, Östersjöar (Swedish) → Polish: Magdalena Wasilewska Chmura
7. Anna Akhmatova, Poems (Russian) → Norwegian
8. Tor Eystein Øverås, Til – en litterær reise (Norwegian) → Latvian: Dace Denina
9. Roalds Dobrovenskis, Magnus, dāņu princis (Latvian) → Danish: Karsten Lomholt
10. Karen Blixen, Vinter-Eventyr (Danish) → Estonian
11. Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Petersburg (Polish) → Russian

We will now ask the 5 translators which names we have on the list if they are interested in a stay in Ventspils. The House will cover their stay, while we pay the travel costs.

Dear all,

now some big events passed and I can start to think about something else.

I am thinking about what you wrote, how to find scholars, or maybe it is better to invite those we just know.

At the House I booked every month except June one place for this project, but about scholarship I cannot tell anything, because starting with the crisis we are really looking for every scholarship for every resident and so nobody knows how it will be next year. at least there will be a place, but how big could be scholarship – no idea. so if you have any chance to find money for scholarships, that would help a lot.

But tell me is it clear – what books they are planned to translate?? I remember you did that meeting here, but afterwords were there selected some texts to translate and into which languages etc…???

so one is clear I have a place for them, but the rest still should be done.

ieva balode