Pleasant Street

According to professor Ebba Witt-Brattström, it's sad that Swedish people cannot make a list of classical Swedish literature that made a major impression on them, the same way people from Finland or Germany can. They cannot make a list of Swedish literature at all, unless you count recent Nordic Noir. And especially not classical books written by female writers.

I must admit that although I have read a fair share of Swedish literature (although I was more into Maria Lang rather than Selma Lagerlöv but I have read Moberg, Fogelström, Bengtsson, Lindgren, Tunström, Ekman, Fredriksson, Lagerqvist, Axelsson, Strindberg, Jansson and many more), I've always been more interested in British and American literature. Very early on, I started to read the books in my Mother's bookcase and later I read the books from her book club. 

This led me to authors such as Leon Uris. I have read several of his books: Exodus, Armageddon, Topaz and QB VII. However, I think that the one that made the most impression on me was Mila 18. How to continue to fight on, even if the opposition is overwhelming and all hope is gone. How to stand for what you believe in. But also what humans are capable of just to survive. When it was published in 1961 it soon became a success, apparently forcing Joseph Heller to change the title of his debut novel from Catch 18 to Catch 22

Walking around modern day Warsaw I'm struck by several things. Of course, I'm impressed by the way they have rebuilt the old town making it very cosy and tourist-friendly (probably more quaint than it was before the WW2). Lots of statues of men. In the area of the former Jewish getto you find only new buildings and more are developed.

Of course you need to learn the history of your own culture and the country where you live, and reading fiction is a good way of doing that. I know that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. However, I think it is also very important to learn about other people and places, otherwise you will end up fearing the unknown or different, and that is probably worse.

From Warszawa 2015

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