lørdag den 11. februar 2017

READER'S ROUND // "Sylvia Plath skriver om mig" Part 1

En af litteraturens forunderlige kvaliteter er hvordan den formår at gribe ind i ens eget liv. Litteraturen kan sætte tanker i gang, den kan ændre måden, hvorpå vi betragter og forstår andre mennesker, men også måden hvorpå vi forstår os selv. Vi kan spejle os i litterære karakterer og pludselig forstå os selv på et dybere plan, eller vi kan tage afstand til det vi læser og pludselig erfare, at vi føler anderledes, end vi troede. 

Det er helt unikt, når et menneske møder en bog, som forandrer noget i menneskets tilværelse. Denne lille føljeton skrevet af forskellige læsere handler om netop dette: et menneskes møde med en bog og alt det der opstår i mødet.


Ps. Forfatteren har valgt at være anonym, men alle kommentarer vil blive videresendt og læst. 


ENGLISH BELOW
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One of the wonderful qualities of literature is the way it can reach into our own lives. Literature can make us reflect on the way we live, it can change the way we perceive the world and how we understand ourselves and other people. We can see ourselves reflected and mirrored in literary characters and suddenly understand ourselves better. 

It's such a unique experience when you read a book that changes something in your life. This series is about exactly that: a person's meeting with a book and everything that happens in this meeting. 

Ps. The author of this post has chosen to be anonymous, but all comments will of course be forwarded. 



Del 1
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Jeg er begyndt at læse Sylvia Plaths klassiker The Bell Jar. Jeg tror jeg har en depression – jeg har det værre end jeg først troede. Lige nu er jeg i gang med at finde fodfæste. Det skræmmer og frustrerer mig at jeg måske skal finde det fodfæste et meget øde sted. Det vil sige: et sted hvor jeg kan tage mig af én eller to ting om dagen, og det er dét. Det er langt fra ethvert fornuftigt menneskes drømme.
The Bell Jar handler om Esther Greenwood. Hun er en ung, dygtig og succesfuld universitetsstuderende. Hun bor i New York City hvor hun takket være et stipendium er kommet i praktik på et prestigefuldt magasin. Hun er fascineret af sine rige og glamourøse storbyvenner, men hun står også uden for alting og kan ikke nyde alt det hun har opnået og er i gang med at opnå. I løbet af romanen, er jeg blevet lovet af diverse anmeldelser og resumeer på nettet, synker hun dybere og dybere ned i en depression. I starten af romanen er det endnu ikke så slemt, men hun føler sig alligevel underligt frakoblet sin omverden: “I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolley-bus”.
Dette beskriver så 1:1 hvordan jeg har det og har haft det i et stykke tid; så meget at jeg knapt nok registrerer det som noget der er værd at nævne. Misforstå mig ikke – det er en fremragende beskrivelse, men jeg kender det så godt at det næsten er banalt. Plaths beskrivelse af hvordan Esther har det, har ikke ramt mig som et slag i ansigtet eller givet mig tårer i øjnene som når man læser en beskrivelse af noget man først i læsningen opdager som værende fuldkommen sandt og gældende for én selv, men som man ikke selv på samme måde har kunnet sætte ord på. Det har ikke taget pusten fra mig. Men der er alligevel noget underligt rart over at en betragtning der for mig – lige nu – er så selvfølgelig og hverdagsagtig, alligevel har sin plads i et af den moderne verdenslitteraturs højst skattede værker. Og jeg er også glad for at have hvad der føles som en akut og personlig forbindelse til The Bell Jar. Den står ikke på min bogreol, men det kunne den, og hvis den gjorde, stod den og skreg “Det er pinligt! Jeg er en moderne klassiker; enhver, især litteraturstuderende, burde læse mig. Du burde have læst mig for år tilbage!” Den har ret. Jeg burde have læst den for år tilbage. Jeg burde have læst den fordi den er en klassiker; fordi jeg allerede kender Sylvia Plath som en fremragende digter. Jeg burde have læst den for kompleksiteten og for sin plads i den moderne, vestlige litteraturhistorie. Jeg burde have læst den for at bygge videre på min dannelse som menneske. Det sidste er den vigtigste årsag, men jeg er ikke sikker på at en bog kan gøre det for én, altså viderebygge én som menneske, hvis ikke man føler en dybt personlig relation til bogen. Her til aften har jeg desperat søgt på både bibliotekerne ved Aarhus Universitets hjemmeside og på Aarhus Kommunes ditto for at se om de har The Bell Jar hjemme. Det har de ikke. Bibliotekerne ved Aarhus Universitet har en del eksemplarer på både dansk og engelsk, men de er alle udlånt. Aarhus Kommunes biblioteker har tre forskellige danske oversættelser, hvor kun én (som nu er min nødløsning hvis ingen boghandel har originalen hjemme) er tilgængelig i Hovedbibliotekets magasin. Den engelske originaludgave har Aarhus Kommunes biblioteker kun som e-bog, og der er kø til den. Man kan tilgå et uddrag, og det er dette uddrag jeg har læst. De første par kapitler. En eller anden bibliotekar må forklare mig a) hvorfor Danmarks andenstørste by og kommune ikke har The Bell Jar på engelsk i et eneste fysisk eksemplar, og b) hvorfor der er kø til en e-bog.

Ved du for resten hvordan den starter? Ved du hvad den første sætning er? “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York”. The Member of the Wedding, en roman af sydstatsforfatteren Carson McCullers (der i øvrigt udkom sytten år før The Bell Jar), starter således: “It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old.” The Member of the Wedding er én de bedste romaner jeg nogensinde har læst. Den handler også om ensomhed, og om at føle sig sat uden for. Måske er det den slags skøre somre der skal til for at beskrive det. Der er intet skørt ved den sædvanliggrå vinter vi har lige nu, men jeg forstår alligevel præcis hvad romanernes febervilde, mærkelige, glasklokkeophedede somre går ud på. Dét er en genkendelse der tager pusten fra mig. Jeg har lidelsesfæller: Frankie og Esther. Og jeg har veninder jeg skal lytte til: Carson og Sylvia.


Det lover godt.



ENGLISH BELOW
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I’ve started reading Sylvia Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. I think I have a depression. I’m worse than I first thought. Right now I’m trying to find my footing. Knowing that I might have to find this footing in a very deserted place is frustrating and terrifying. By deserted I mean: a place where I can deal with one or two things a day, and that’s it. It’s very far from any sensible person’s dreams.
The Bell Jar is about Esther Greenwood, a young, talented, successful college student. She lives in New York City where is working as an intern for a prestigious magazine thanks to a scholarship she has won. Her rich and glamourous friends from the big city fascinate her, but she also feels removed from everything and is unable to enjoy all the things she is accomplishing and has been accomplishing. During the novel, several online reviews and summaries have assured me, she sinks deeper and deeper into a depression. In the beginning of the novel things aren’t so bad yet, but she still feels oddly cut off from the world around her: ‘I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolley-bus’.
This describes, word for word, how I have been feeling for a while now; so much so that I hardly register it as something worth noting. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an excellent description, but I know it so well that it almost seems banal. Plath’s description of how Esther feels has not punched me in the stomach or brought tears to my eyes like when you read a description of something which you, while reading it, discover to be completely true, but which you couldn’t put into words in quite the same way. It has not taken my breath away. Still, there is something strangely appealing about the fact that a reflection which to me – right now – is so very matter-of-factly still, after all, has a place in one of the most cherished works of literature in the modern world. And I am also happy to have a connection to The Bell Jar that feels acute and personal. The book isn’t in my bookshelf, but it could have been, and if it were, it would be shouting: ‘This is embarrassing! I’m a modern classic! Everyone, especially literature students, ought to read me. You ought to have read me years ago!” It’s right. I ought to have read it years ago. I ought to have read it because it’s a classic; because I already know Sylvia Plath as an excellent poet. I ought to have read it for the sake of its complexity and its place in western literary history. I ought to have read it for the sake of my personal, intellectual education as a human being. The latter is the most important motivation, but I’m not sure a book can do that – educate you as a human being – if you do not feel you have a deeply personal relation to the book. Tonight, I have desperately searched online to see if The Bell Jar is available in any of the libraries at my university or in the public libraries of my municipality. It isn’t. The university library has several copies in both English and Danish, but all of them are out on loan. At the public library of my municipality, there are three Danish translations, only one of which is available in the library store room (this is now my emergency solution if none of my local bookstores carries the original). The original, English version is only available through the public library as an e-book, and there is a queue for it. You can access an excerpt featuring the first couple of chapters, and it is this excerpt I have been reading. Some librarian really needs to explain to me a) why the libraries of the second largest city and municipality of Denmark do not have The Bell Jar in English in one single, printed copy, and b) why there is a queue for an e-book.

Do you know how it begins, by the way? Do you know what the first sentence is? ‘It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York’. The Member of the Wedding, a novel by the Southern writer Carson McCullers (which was published 17 years before The Bell Jar, as it happens), begins like this: ‘It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old’. The Member of the Wedding is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It, too, deals with loneliness and feeling left out. Maybe it takes those kinds of crazy, queer summers to describe these things. There is nothing queer about the everyday gray winter we’re in the middle of right now, but still, I understand exactly what the feverish, strange, bell jar-heated summers of the novels are about. That is a recognition that takes my breath away. I have fellow sufferers: Frankie and Esther. And I have friends I need to listen to: Carson and Sylvia.

It promises well.

5 kommentarer:

  1. Hvor er det et skønt tiltag! Jeg ser meget frem til næste del. :)

    Jeg holder selv meget af Sylvia Plath, men mest af alt for hendes digte. Specielt "Lady Lazarus" og "The Applicant" - de kan læses online, og de påvirkede mig virkelig meget. Jeg håber snart, kære læser, at du får fat i "The Bell Jar" - og at din hverdagslige rytme snart bliver lettere. Det er så tungt at bakse med en depression, og jeg sender kærlige tanker i din retning.

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    1. Hvor er jeg glad for, du synes om det! Tak, Camilla.

      Jeg har faktisk aldrig læst hendes digte, men det vil jeg da bestemt gøre nu. Tak for din besked til forfatteren af det lille skriv! <3

      Slet
  2. Hi Ida,
    When I read your article, I immediately remembered the lines from Lacey Dalton's song 'Black Coffee': "... Black coffee red warning no good news this morning bad feeling..." From Carson McCullers, I have three novels at home, but no book by Sylvia Plath. Why do not I know anything about Sylvia Plath? After reading your article, I searched the catalogue of my municipal library and was confronted with your situation. They have only one copy, and that is borrowed. So I decided to go to my bookstore and order the book. The German edition is available in two days, the English in 14 days. Often threatening events begin on warm summer days. I have two novels in my bookshelf, which start with a description of the summer weather. There is "The Public Burning" by Robert Coover: "...Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, are arrested by the FBI and charged with having conspired to steal atomic secrets and pass them to the Russians. They are tried, found guilty, and on April 5, 1951, sentenced by the Judge to die—thieves of light to be burned by light—in the electric chair ... and it is determined to burn them in New York City's Time Square on the night of their fourteenth wedding anniversary, Thursday, June 18, 1953." The other is "The Man without Qualities" by Robert Musil: " A barometric low hung over the Atlantic... The water vapor in the air was at its maximal state of tension, while the humidity was minimal. In a word that characterizes the facts fairly accurately, even if it is a bit old-fashioned: It was a fine day in August 1913."
    I feel with you, depression is not a nice thing, and I hope you will be happy soon again. And I'm listening to you. Please take care of yourself.
    I wish you all the best.
    Wolfgang

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    1. Dear Wolfgang,

      I wonder why you've been confronted with the same problem when looking for Plath. It's a shame really. Sylvia Plath deserves a lot of attention. Have you received the book by now?
      It is very interesting with so many books beginning on a warm summer day/night. But they are often heavy with atmosphere, and I certainly understand why you would want to write about them.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I feel, however, that I have to make you aware, that the text is not written by me, but by a guest blogger. I'm introducing a new category to the blog where different guest writers write about their experience when reading a book (of their own choice of course). So, although I appreciate your kind thoughts, I don't have a depression :-) But I will, of course, let the author of the text know of your comment!

      All the best,
      Ida

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    2. Hi Ida,
      Yes, I have got the German translation of the novel, and I'll order the English book. I did not read your comment is preceding the text, but I went straight to the main part "English Below" by scrolling very fast down, because I am very interested in Sylvia Plath, especially since she was the wife of Ted Hughes. So I did not realise that it was the text of a guest author. This post is so authentic, soulful and touched me deeply, particularly the sentence: 'I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolley-bus’. That situation was very familiar to me many, many years ago as I was forced to work in a city where I did not want to be and with people I did not want to meet. The parties mentioned in the sentence can be crossed out in my case. Now I have started to read the novel. I'm very glad, that you are OK. And I hope that the anonymous author will also be OK soon.
      Best regards
      Wolfgang

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