John Cowper Powys Society
First page ►
About the society ►
John Cowper Powys
In Swedish ►
Newsletter no. 12 – The Autobiography – at last!
by Lars Gustaf Andersson
of the most remarkable translation projects into Swedish is fulfilled: The
translation by Sven Erik Täckmark and
The present text in Swedish has two contrivers. During the process we have tried to incorporate the knowledge and the stylistic choices of the Täckmark version into the new version. And at the same time that is really what it is: a completely new version, which has developed new ways of dealing with the syntax, vocabulary and stylistic understanding of the English original. (p. 669 – 670)
Autobiography was originally published in
The sixty years
old writer was not on his way to close his work, he was rather in the beginning, and we know that he was to
be restlessly productive for almost another thirty years. In the Autobiography Powys deals with his
childhood and early years in
Often it seems that the author has forgotten all years and names; at the same time he has an almost photographic memory for situations, natural sceneries, smells and (not the least) personalities. In spite of his forgetfulness (obviously to some parts enacted) and in spite of his almost solipsist individualism (which also seems to be enacted for some moments) the self-portrait of the book is a texture of several emphatic and complex portraits – of the father and the brothers as well as a row of close and sometimes lifelong friends; especially the writers he met in American exile (above all Theodore Dreiser and Edgar Lee Masters). (p. 668)
One way to read the Autobiography is to avoid al the biographical and historical facts and just be overwhelmed by the enormous streams of words. Everywhere there are keys to our own lives, as when the author, towards the end of his book, claims:”In the first place what is the deepest, most secret purpose of my life?
I can answer categorically: ’To enjoy then sensations that I like enjoying, when I am most entirely and shamelessly myself’.” Or, when he describes his own universe as pluralistic: ”…like the world of Homer, where everything around you, air, water, earth, fire, is the living body of a living spirit”
One of his most heartrending wordings concerns the relation to the child within us all: ” The persons we have been are lost rather than fulfilled in what we become, and many who labour for their bread in a penurious manhood carry within them the ghosts of children who hade cake for the asking”.
ghost of the child within
The Swedish edition can be ordered directly from the publisher: www.ariel.nu
For an extensive review in Swedish, se ”Vem är
This page updated 4 April 2012.