“Begäret att veta” eller “Begäret att njuta”? Marie Sophie Schwartz på export till Polen


  • Magdalena Wasilewska-Chmura


This contribution addresses the phenomenon of the popularity of Swedish women writers in the nineteenth century in Sweden and other European countries. The focus is on Polish translations of Marie Sophie Schwartz, whose novels became extremely popular in Poland in the 1860s and 1870s, judging from the number of books translated in comparison to other Swedish bestselling writers, such as Fredrika Bremer and Emilie Flygare Carlén. The contribution begins with a discussion of translation strategies for titles, used as tools for marketing the literature. The titles employed appealed to readers' expectations about popular literature by emphasizing the melodramatic elements of the plot rather than its social dimension, especially in novels published as serials in newspapers and magazines.   Interestingly, subsequent book editions were published with titles more true to the original, which suggests a growing social consciousness in Polish society about the issues addressed in the novels. One of the most important issues for Schwartz was emancipation, specifically women's right to education, employment and economic autonomy. Although the author was rather moderate in her call for gender equality, emphasizing a distinct 'nature' of women and the need for their commitment to the family, Polish translations modified such gender-related aspects further, rendering progressive female characters in more conservative terms and as conforming to culturally established behavioural patterns. This might be due to the specific political situation in nineteenth-century Poland, which, in the aftermath of its partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Habsburg Austria was no longer an independent country and struggled to preserve a national culture. The values promoted in the Schwartz's novels, namely the importance of work and duty, became vital strategic elements for the Polish nation after the defeat of the national uprising in 1863, when the romantic fight for freedom proved fruitless. Subsequently, the topic of social conflict became less frequent in literature, whose focus shifted towards education.