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Hectic time for leading Tranströmer expert

08 October 2011

Niklas Schiöler

Niklas Schiöler

Lund University’s own Tranströmer expert, reader and poet Niklas Schiöler, has had a hectic time to say the least since it was announced that Tomas Tranströmer had been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. The telephone has been ringing off the hook and he has answered over 150 calls from journalists around the world.

“It hasn’t been a poet since 1996. Sooner or later it has to be a poet, and they couldn’t pass over Tranströmer, despite the fact that he’s Swedish”, replies Niklas Schiöler when asked why Tranströmer has been given the prize now. “When Tranströmer’s disciples, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney and Joseph Brodsky received the prize, they wondered why they had got it but not the master”, he continues.

“From China to the US, there is no-one who is upset at the choice of Tranströmer. He has been translated into 60 languages and is the world’s most translated post-war poet. In English, there are five different translations of the same poems. He is unusually worthy of the prize.”

Niklas Schiöler wrote his doctoral thesis on Tomas Tranströmer in 1999 and often brings him up in his teaching at Lund University, both when discussing basic interpretation of literary works, and with regard to translation issues and on the historical independent study courses.

“Tranströmer gives students examples of an alternative use of language which portrays humans in their entirety. His objective, relaxed language combined with his imagery plumb the immensity of the human being. He gives us a glimpse of the more hidden sides of existence”, says Niklas Schiöler.

For 15 years, Niklas Schiöler has been on call every time the Nobel Prize for Literature is announced. Journalists have sat in his office and waited to find out the winner.

“Over the past five years I have become a bit blasé from all the fuss, but now that Tranströmer has got the prize, I am just so pleased”, he says.

On Friday, 7 October he was at the premiere of the very first play based on Tranströmer’s poems. The play is called “Den halvfärdiga himlen” (The Half-Finished Heaven), the same name as the poem, and stars Samuel Fröler in one of the lead roles. The play is on at Strindbergs Intima Teater at Stockholms Stadsteater.

Text: Gisela Lindberg

Niklas is now in Stockholm for the premiere of a play at Stadsteatern, “Den halvfärdiga himlen” (The Half-Finished Heaven) with Tranströmer and Samuel Fröler. The image of Niklas is borrowed from them.

For more information about the play, see:

http://www.stadsteatern.stockholm.se/