Finland-Swedish literature in the Czech field of literary production


  • Jan Dlask


Finland-Swedish literature, Finland-Swedish literature abroad, Nordic literatures translations, translations to Czech, Czech translators, Czech publishers, literary sociology, Pierre Bourdieu, field of literary production, commercial/intellectual pole


This contribution, theoretically and methodologically inspired by Pierre Bourdieu's concept of a literary field, analyses the case of Finland-Swedish literature translations into Czech. This literature is viewed as Swedish-language minority literature in Finland after 1900. The field of literary production is small, but nevertheless represents a varied Finland-Swedish 'segment' in the Czech field. As such it constitutes a certain publishing field, having two polarities (commercial/intellectual; young/old) and being entered into by publishers and translators who select writers and books from a certain space of possibles. Print runs of the published books and the distribution of publishing grants are explored with a view to the sociological character of the research. The analysis is divided into sections according to genres and their presupposed place in the field. It is found that while the mechanisms in the Czech publishing field of Finland-Swedish literature are fragmentary (many different authors, works, translators and publishers), the Bourdieusian approach is a productive framework through which to view the division between the intellectual and commercial poles. The position of Finland-Swedish modernist poetry and prose is – Edith Södergran, Bo Carpelan and Hagar Olsson, published by Práce and Odeon publishers – is especially significant on the intellectual pole, as well as the position of their advocates within the Czech field (e.g. Josef B. Michl). Short stories, extracts and essays, often belonging to the Finland-Swedish classics (e.g. Christer Kihlman, Henrik Tikkanen), were mainly published in cultural reviews. Finland-Swedish prose is the most varied category, encompassing a broad spectrum of authors and works. Finland-Swedish drama is represented by Bo Ahlfors and the translator of his works František Fröhlich, while commercially successful literature is represented by Sally Salminen's books, published by A. Neubert and Tove Jansson's Moomins. Some of them were translated from Swedish by Libor Štukavec and published by Albatros, others were translated from English and published by Argo.