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Our Need for Consolation is Insatiable
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities. (Engelska)
2013 (English)In: Little Star: a journal of poetry and prose, ISSN 2158-5830, Vol. 5, 301-307 p.Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) [Artistic work] Published
Abstract [en]

In 1951 Swedish writer Stig Dagerman wrote an autobiographical essay titled "Our Need for Consolation is Insatiable." It is a remarkable poetic meditation on the life-and-death stakes of the literary imagination from a writer who was likely suffering from an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, fighting for his life through one depressive episode after another. Written when his critical reputation and fame as Sweden’s greatest new literary phenom had been firmly established following a remarkable outpouring of critically acclaimed work in the late 1940s, the essay marked a point in time when the tides had turned for Dagerman, who now struggled with the opposite of this productive streak in the form of a debilitating bout of writer’s block that would eventually contribute to his suicide two years later. "Our Need for Consolation is Insatiable" lays bare the writer’s fragile psyche, not only his faltering ego but his selfless and far from sure-footed ambition to offer something of lasting beauty and meaning to a world indifferent to his very existence. While writing the essay, Dagerman managed to rise temporarily from the depths of his depression and identify the sources of his own consolation and hope in terms that have continued to resonate powerfully with many readers, and fellow writers, over the following 60 years. Originally published in 1952 in the improbable venue of Husmodern (a magazine dedicated to home economics for Swedish housewives, analogous to American magazines like Good Housekeeping or Better Homes and Gardens), the essay was a profound response to a trivial commission from the magazine’s editors, who asked Dagerman to send them “something on the art of living.” The soul- and psyche-searching tour de force that Dagerman composed was not likely what the editors had in mind, but to their credit—and also possibly owing to his celebrity—they published the essay as written. The essay has since been translated into 10 languages and published / reprinted a great many times. This is the first literary translation of the essay into English.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, 2013. Vol. 5, 301-307 p.
Keyword [en]
Post-War literature suicide meaning art existence
National Category
Specific Literatures
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-22769OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-22769DiVA: diva2:744127
Note

English Literary translation of Stig Dagerman's classic essay "Vårt behov av tröst," a powerful extended meditation on the difficult balance of art, life and death. This publication is part of a literary historical recovery effort to make Dagerman's most important works available for the first time in English.

(ISSN 2151-8637 (print))

Available from: 2014-09-06 Created: 2014-09-06 Last updated: 2015-03-10Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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