Harry Edmund Martinson, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1974 (1904 - 1978) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Jämshög, Sverige
Death: Died in Sverige
Cause of death: Performing Seppuku with a pair of scissors.
Occupation: Swedish sailor, author and poet
Managed by: Yigal Burstein / יגאל בורשטיין
Last Updated:
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About Harry Edmund Martinson, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1974

http://www.nad.riksarkivet.se/sbl/Presentation.aspx?id=9140

Harry Martinson (May 6, 1904 – February 11, 1978) was a Swedish sailor, author and poet. In 1949 he was elected into the Swedish Academy. He was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974 together with fellow Swede Eyvind Johnson. The choice for Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson was very controversial as both were on the Nobel panel. They and Graham Greene, Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov were the favored candidates that year.

Life

Martinson was born in Jämshög, Blekinge County in south-eastern Sweden. At a young age he lost both his parents whereafter he was placed as a foster child (Kommunalbarn) in the Swedish countryside. At the age of sixteen Martinson ran away and signed onto a ship to spend the next years sailing around the world visiting countries such as Brazil and India.

A few years later lung problems forced him to set ashore in Sweden where he travelled around without a steady employment, at times living as a vagabond on country roads. In the city of Malmö, at the age of 21, he was arrested for vagrancy.

In 1929, he debuted as a poet. Together with Artur Lundkvist, Gustav Sandgren, Erik Asklund and Josef Kjellgren he authored the anthology Fem unga (Five Youths), which introduced Swedish Modernism. His poetry combined an acute eye for, and love of nature, with a deeply-felt humanism. His popular success as a novelist came with the semi-autobiographical Nässlorna blomma (The Nettles Flower) in 1935, about hardships encountered by a young boy in the countryside. It has since been translated into more than thirty languages.

One of his most famous works is the poetic cycle Aniara, which is a story of the space craft Aniara that during a journey through space loses its course and subsequently floats on without destination. The book was published in (1956) and became in 1959 an opera composed by Karl-Birger Blomdahl. The cycle has been described as an epic story of man's fragility and folly.

From 1929 to 1940, he was married to Moa Martinson, whom he met through a Stockholm anarchist newspaper Brand. He travelled to the Soviet Union in 1934. He and Moa were divorced due to her criticism of his lack of political commitment. Moa became a writer; Harry married Ingrid Lindcrantz in 1942.

One of his most famous works is the poetic cycle Aniara, which is a story of the space craft Aniara that during a journey through space loses its course and subsequently floats on without destination. The book was published in 1956 and became an opera in 1959 composed by Karl-Birger Blomdahl. The cycle has been described as "an epic story of man's fragility and folly".

He took his life on February 11, 1978, at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm by performing Seppuku with a pair of scissors.

The 100th anniversary of Martinson's birth was celebrated around Sweden in 2004.

Controversy

The joint selection of Eyvind Johnson and Martinson for the Nobel Prize in 1974 was very controversial as both were on the Nobel panel. Graham Greene, Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov were the favoured candidates that year.

The sensitive Martinson found it hard to cope with the criticism in the 1970s following his award, and attempted suicide with a pair of scissors.

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Harry Martinson, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1974's Timeline

1904
May 6, 1904
Sverige
1929
1929
Age 24
1940
1940
Age 35
1978
February 11, 1978
Age 73
Sverige
February, 1978
Age 73
Sollentuna, Sollentuna, Stockholm County, Sweden
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