Posts Tagged ‘Swedish’

This is an art installation by the Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg, called When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down.

My Modern Met’s blog describes it asa library that plunges into an infinite abyss. Visible only from above ground, the intriguing installation is inconspicuously marked and, from a distance, looks as though it’s just a square frame laying on the grass. As viewers approach it, however, they can easily see the stacks of books descending into the earth. Its compact structure is reminiscent of a mining shaft or water well with no apparent bottom.” –

“When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down” – by Susanna Hesselberg (via My Modern Met – click image for link to website)


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.


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!


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.


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 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!


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!