Posts Tagged ‘Swedish’

I recently finished reading “The Serious Game” by Hjalmar Söderberg, translated from the Swedish.

“The Serious Game” by Hjalmar Söderberg (Translated by Eva Claeson) (via Goodreads)

The blurbs reads:

“Sweden at the turn of the previous century. Arvid, an ambitious and well-educated young man, meets Lydia, the daughter of a landscape painter, during an idyllic summer vacation and falls in love. Lydia, however, has other suitors, and Astrid is frightened of being tied down by his emotions. Trapped inside loveless marriages of convenience, they struggle in later years to rekindle the promise of their romance with bitter and tragic results.”

It wasn’t the most dynamic of books, but was sufficiently interesting to keep me reading it.

It starts with young love between the protagonists, and describes Lydia’s family life and her life from her view, before switching to Arvid’s point of view for the rest of the book.

Their relationship through the book is really weird because it seems so promising at the start an then things get complicated when they lose touch and marry other people, for different reasons. Arvid seems reluctant to marry at all but does anyway. Lydia isn’t that bothered about once she is married.

They have an affair on and off, but Lydia seems distant and strange at times, blowing hot and cold. I feel sorry for Arvid because she keeps him hanging on for her, but he seems like a nice guy who is determined to do the right thing.

Their relationship seems to be doomed when they both get married, and despite having an affair, things seem to trail off. I didn’t think it had “tragic results”, but other readers may think otherwise. There are some good bits in their relationship but it is fairly dismal because they don’t seem hugely passionate in their affair.

The lovers’ relationship aside, the book does describe the life and culture in Sweden quite well, picking out the songs they sing, the paintings by Lydia’s father, the many trips Arvid takes to the opera, and the city life in Stockholm versus the country life.

I’m only giving this book 6/10 because it took me a while to get into it properly. I thought Arvid was a better character than Lydia because we learn more about him and see that he has a lot of things to keep him occupied in his life, whereas Lydia just seems a bit lazy and uncaring. If you like Sweden and maybe a bit of history then try this novel, but if you’re looking for an interesting positive relationship then you won’t find it here. However, even though you won’t find either Romeo and Juliet or Cathy and Heathcliff in this, you will find a more average sort of couple to focus on.

I love languages! This is the second part of my posts about my relationship with languages.

University

As i mentioned in my previous post, i studied English Literature at university, so i know a lot about my native language already.

I did a module on TESOL (teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and the first thing the tutor did was speak to us in one of her foreign languages, in this case it was Indonesian. I can’t remember anything she said, mainly because i had a mad panic at being addressed in a completely unfamiliar language! A good example of how people feel when they first learn a foreign language!

Arabic

I chose to study Arabic as an extra-curricular activity whilst at university, and i studied it for a semester because i wanted to learn something new. Arabic is a totally different language: not only is it from a different language family, it is read from right-to-left (instead of left-to-right like English, German and so on), letters of the alphabet change when you write them down in certain ways, and it is a cursive language. I got totally confused at times while studying Arabic! It is one of the hardest languages to learn because it has a different alphabet, which i spent hours trying to learn! I made reasonable progress with Arabic, although when the final exam came i completely stuffed it up and subsequently failed the class! Oops! To be fair, it was only a recreational class and not part of my degree, so it didn’t take priority when i had important essay deadlines and a dissertation due around the time of the final exam!

My Arabic skills consist of being able to say a few greetings and replies, and the odd word, but i can’t read Arabic and i have forgotten the letters of the alphabet, except for “al” which basically means “the”. I don’t have  much to show for that class! I do still have the Arabic learning CD set though, so i could attempt to learn it again!

Outside Academica/ In the real world!

I have had the opportunity to visit other countries and learn their languages, mainly through holidays. Mainly i know the Scandinavian languages, having visited a few of those countries.

Swedish

As my family has friends in Sweden and we’ve been on family holidays over there a few times, i learned words and phrases to make our trips more interesting. I know greetings and simple touristy phrases, and i know lots of random words! My food vocabulary is my strongest skill in Swedish, as i love Swedish food! I can pick out words from sentences and make a guess at what it means!

I also had the opportunity at university to study abroad and Sweden was my country of choice, but in the end i decided i would rather stay in England for the rest of my degree because i loved my university city, York, too much! Actually, i see now that i was very stupid to pass up such an opportunity! Oops!

Finnish

Finnish is another difficult language which is from a different language family to the other Scandic languages. It is fascinating though! I went on a family holiday to Finland as a teenager and i learned a few simple phrases and words in Finnish. I can pick out the odd word, but sentences are a bit too difficult to understand! It is one of the more difficult languages to learn, especially with the sentence structure and so on.

I did actually do an essay on the Finnish language at university, several years after this holiday, for which i learned about the history of Finnish and how Swedish used to be the main language spoken in Finland until Finnish was introduced as the main language. One day, it would be nice to learn a bit more Finnish because it is a really fascinating language!

Danish

I went to Denmark a few times on holiday, so i learned a few Danish words while i was there. Mainly i know food vocabulary!

Now and the future…

Currently i am taking 1-1 tutorial sessions to improve my German language skills, in the hope that i will someday be able to either live and work in Germany or at least communicate in German on a regular basis while working here in the UK. It is my favourite language so i decided to give it a shot, and i’m finding that i can actually remember a lot of my school German when prompted! The only problem is getting my head around all the grammar rules again!

In the future, i would like to maybe give Arabic another shot or start learning Finnish, as both are quite difficult to learn. I would love to learn Swedish properly, and i would like to improve my French to i can communicate more fluently in it!

My main aim is to become fluent in another language before i’m 30, so i’ve got 5 more years to get cracking!

I have just finished reading “Handling The Undead” by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Handling The Undead - John Ajvide Lindqvist (via Amazon)

In the city of Stockholm, the dead are coming back to life. The novel questions: how to handle the restless Reliving, who just want to come back home?

As can be expected, this plot throws up all sorts of issues, from the human rights of the Reliving, to questioning people’s religious beliefs, to trying to interact with the Reliving. The various characters we meet all have a connection to the Reliving and their relationships are all very different. These characters are all processing some kind of grief as they  confront the return of their loved ones whom they had recently buried. They are all fleshed out really well, with their stories being unique but connected by this one event. One character story is a little chilling, with the grandfather, Mahler, who digs up his Reliving grandson and hides him from the government. My favourite character is Flora, a teenager who has a special power of being able to sense things which others can’t.

You may call them zombies, but they are not the stereotypical idea of zombies which we all know: the groaning, half-decomposed, flesh-eating, walking bodies. They are simply bodies in varying states of decomposition (depending on the nature of the cause of death) which walk and, in one case, talk.  Yes, this novel explores the dead themselves, but it mainly focuses on the reactions of the living. There are some interesting thoughts about death, what counts as death, and questions what happens to the soul after death, if such a thing really exists. It makes you think about the lengths people will go to to protect their deceased loved ones, and how people really cope when the laws of nature are turned upside down. This is the sort of novel which explores and pushes the boundaries of subjects which we actually know little about. It basically just shows us ways in which humans cope with the unexpected.

The book is really well written, with great description of the people, places and events. It focuses on the emotional aspect of the story, and develops the characters’ stories by telling us about their pasts as well as showing their emotional reaction to the Reliving.

My only problem with the novel is that it doesn’t answer WHY the dead suddenly rise, or why its only those who died within the last few months who come back. Just as we start getting answers about how their souls can escape the body, the novel ends (rather abruptly i thought).

I give it 8/10 because it is a very good novel and its great to read something which more than just another zombie story.  It is really thought-provoking and disturbing.

It might have been a 10/10, but the ending is not really up to the standard of the rest of it. I was disappointed how suddenly it ended, without answering the vital questions. Nevertheless, i would still recommend it, as Linqvist is a brilliant writer!

Note: I read this on my Kindle, and it was a different experience to reading a print book, but i quite enjoyed it! My only issue with the ebook of this novel is that there seemed to be a few mistakes within the text, with dialogue of different characters getting mixed up on the same line, which got confusing, and a few other little niggles.