Tag Archives: E L James

Swedish Eyres

‘There is a Jane Eyre in translation here,’ said the Resident IT Consultant as we discussed whether it would be suitable for Swiss Lady to read. You know, after fifty shades. Because it would have to be in Swedish.

I was surprised, but waited as he went to get it from the shelf.

He returned with the news that it was in English, as I’d expected it to be. I doubt Mother-of-witch read it in the original, but there was a time as she was learning English when she bought a fair number of novels in that language, some of which she did read. Lady Chatterley, for instance.

Hmm, that’s a thought. Would D H Lawrence suit a shades fan?

Jane Eyre translated by Gun-Britt Sundström

But thinking of Jane Eyre, I have no idea what the novel is like in translation. I only ever got round to reading those classics in English, which means I was much later than my [English-speaking] peers.

I looked Jane up. I believe she was translated at least three times, most recently in the 1990s. First time was soon after the book was published. And while the English doesn’t really date much, the Swedish would. Hence the need for more than one version.

You can buy a paperback for 55 kronor online, which seems reasonable. Translation by Gun-Britt Sundström. You can also read a short sample, which strangely enough is the mid-20th century one by Ingegärd von Tell.

Jane Eyre translated by Ingegärd von Tell

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Gripped, and wanting more

We met up for waffles, the Resident IT Consultant and I, GP Cousin and Swiss Lady. One has to get the waffles when one can, and it was a warm sunny day for it. As it had been for months.

As GP Cousin inadvisably tackled the Resident IT Consultant on the England win, Swiss Lady leaned towards me and said she needed to talk about books. This was very unexpected and a really unlikely thing. She had been reading – something she rarely does – and it was so wonderful she’d reread it, and read all the books and seen the film. As had all her friends.

I should have seen it coming. Fifty Shades.

I muttered something about maybe perhaps having to disown her now, but she was so happy this went un-noticed.

And then we spent a long time over waffles and fifty shades. Not sure she even realised I’d not read the books. But I was glad she’d been reading, and that she had enjoyed it. And, erm, learned stuff.

Forty years ago, newly arrived in Sweden, she had read Sigge Stark. I read Sigge Stark as a teenager, because the books were in our bookcase, and you tend to read everything at that age. They were bestselling romantic fiction in Sweden after the war.

So, I could sense a pattern for Swiss Lady. I rashly promised to find her suggestions of what to read next, preferably something not quite fifty shades. I have a few ideas, but would welcome more. It mustn’t be War and Peace, and not Solzhenitsyn, whose books apparently also got read at some point. Although Heinrich Böll had been all right…

It’s tricky. You don’t want to turn someone off late-found reading. At the same time you sort of want to save their soul.

And to go on some more…

about those libraries that we need, or aren’t entitled to, depending on point of view.

The Resident IT Consultant takes things seriously. One day – I forget how – we ended up discussing whether you get that shades of grey book in libraries. Oh, I remember why. I read in the paper that you wouldn’t want it from a library, because you’d be too ashamed, facing a librarian with your questionable choice of reading material.

So now that the Resident IT Consultant has his fresh, new library card, he felt the urge to explore whether you do get it in the library. I issued a prohibition on him actually going in and asking. I could just see how that would end badly. So he researched it online. It’s not an exact science, apparently, but it would seem Stockport libraries have around twenty copies of the ‘must read’ book of 2012.

Because he’s a thorough kind of man, he balanced this by checking how many Bring Up the Bodies we have in these parts. Also around twenty. Nice and even. Crap. Or quality.

It’s good, isn’t it? You can have anything to read. And why not? (The Retired Children’s Librarian in her day objected to Nancy Drew and similar, and she was entitled to do so.) I was quite heartened early on, when noticing that Stockport has Mills & Boon on its shelves. And why shouldn’t it?

I’m sure librarians are the same as doctors. They’ve seen it all before. And as someone commented on the letters page in the paper, these days you check books out yourself, just like in Sainsbury’s. You can blush at the machine, but it – too – has probably seen it all before.

PS I went into Stockport yesterday. Was approached by twenty-something couple inquiring where the library was. If you were prejudiced, you’d have said they didn’t look like library users. So maybe you just can’t tell.