New Swedish Brideshead

A review by Johan Norberg of a new translation of Brideshead Revisited into Swedish appears in the Stockholm newspaper Expressen. The translation is by Hans-Jakob Nilsson and the title is En förlorad värld–åter till Brideshead (“A Lost World: Return to Brideshead”). It was first published by Wahlström & Widstrand in 2015. See previous post.  A Swedish version was originally published in 1946 without the “Brideshead” subtitle. That translation was apparently by Margaretha Odelberg and a new edition was published at least once in 1982 (apparently in connection with the 1981 TV series).

The review starts with a reference to the TV series, which was called in Swedish Gensyn med Brideshead (closer to the original English version) and then describes the latest edition as a:

…new, elegant yet available Swedish translation by Hans-Jacob Nilsson , in a refined emerald-green volume that could have been on Sebastian Flyte’s table in Christ Church, Oxford, the first time a nervous and expectant Charles comes there for lunch …

The novel can be read on so many levels. There are intoxicating nostalgic youth depictions, sacrificing social satire and religious reasoning, while also dealing with the architecture and interior design of the country estate. You can never get depressed by any party before the next one comes.

The Catholic Waugh said that this was a novel about divine grace and many others that it is a novel about class. Both of them are correct. It is a swan song for the aristocracy that Waugh admired, but it is hardly the one we long for. It is a defense of faith, but as  Johanna Kolion observes in the afterword, it is strange for a religious novel to produce secular life that is so surprising [överlägset lockande ?]…

A friend of mine usually claims that “Brideshead” should be two separate novels. One that only deals with Charles and Sebastian and endless summers. Because we would love to remain in this happy childhood, which seems so innocent, even though its loadability [lastbarhet ?] has a place high in the catalog of difficult sins. Another novel would be about Sebastian’s complicated and suffocating family, about his alcoholism, about war, religion and grace. But in fact, of course, it is the combination of these two stories that makes the novel so strong and painful.

The review concludes:

…The first chapter is called “Et in Arcadia ego” so there is no doubt that this is a dance on the verge of the abyss. The Swedish title, which has existed since 1946, is equally clear: “A lost world”. Evelyn Waugh also wrote it during World War II, when uniforms, rationing and lost limbs gave him a longing for a fiery epoch’s gratitude and easy-going decadence. With full stomach he later found many of the descriptions repulsive. But we, who never experienced it from the beginning, will not be measured so easily. Charles goes to that first lunch with Sebastian because he hopes he will find the low door in the wall leading to a secret and enchanted garden in the heart of the gray city. For many of us readers, the door is  called “Brideshead revisited”.

The translation of the review is by Google with some edits. Any suggestions on the translation are welcome by commenting as provided below.

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