Tomas Tranströmmer

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Tomas Tranströmmer (2008)

Tomas Gösta Tranströmmer [ ˈtuːmas ˈjøsta ˈtɾɑːnˌstɾømːəɾ ] (born April 15, 1931 in Stockholm ; † March 26, 2015 ibid) was a Swedish poet who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature . His complete works , translated into more than 50 languages, comprise twelve volumes of poetry with a total volume of less than 500 pages. One of the hallmarks of his poetry is the highest possible compression of language images.


Tomas Tranströmer's father was a journalist, his mother a teacher and, after the divorce, a single parent. Before the young Tranström discovered music and art, he wanted to become a scientist or an archaeologist . In 1950 he graduated from Södra Latins High School in Stockholm . He completed his studies in the history of literature and poetics , the history of religion and psychology at Stockholm University of Applied Sciences in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts . He stayed there for another four years as a research assistant before moving to a job as a psychologist at the Roxtuna juvenile detention center.

In 1965 he moved to Västerås , a town about 100 km west of Stockholm, where he lived for a long time. Over the years he was so valued there that in 1997 the city council established a Tranström Prize for literature named after him . The city has awarded the prize every two years since 1998 to a Scandinavian poet or a poet from one of the countries bordering the Baltic Sea. From 1980 until his retirement, Tranström worked as an industrial psychologist at the Swedish National Employment Service. After his retirement, Tranström moved back to Stockholm with his wife Monica.

Tomas Tranströmmer (2014)

Tranström made his debut in 1954 at the age of 23 with the poetry collection 17 dikter (17 poems) . He also experimented with blank verse , but later preferred free rhythms. Some of his next collections of poetry, e.g. B. Hemligheter på vägen (1958) and Klanger och spår (1966), processed experiences on trips abroad to Spain, the Balkans, Africa and the USA. His texts repeatedly emerged as the result of a confrontation with other arts, such as his poetic portrait Edvard Griegs or his poem Ein Mensch aus Benin , which was inspired by an African work of art in the Vienna Museum of Ethnology .

A productive friendship with artists connected Tranströmer with the American poet Robert Bly , who was descended from Norwegian parents. They translated each other faithfully into the respective language of the other and also included each other's poems in their own publications. In 2001, Bonniers Verlag published a book on Tranströmer's 70th birthday with the correspondence between the two poets from 1964 to 1990.

A stroke in November 1990 resulted in paralysis and aphasia on one side. After a long period of rehabilitation he was able to write again. His wife helped him with drafting texts. His poems became shorter after the stroke and often deal with the poet's relationship to his language. His book Sorgegondolen (The Funeral Gondola) , published in 1996, sold 30,000 copies in the small Swedish book market. Den stora gåtan ( The Great Riddle , 2004) dealt in part with the theme of death, its omens and experiences. Tranström was also an exceptionally gifted amateur musician; he played the organ and the piano .

His marriage to his wife, Monica Bladh, had two daughters.


Tomas Tranströmer relied on intensity and the highest possible compression of language images that get by with very few words. He wanted to work through the variety of associations and balances alone . With the self-discipline through the scarcity and laconicity of speech, he has come back to the strict formal requirements of the Japanese haiku poem, a poem form in which the words, but the syllables are the building blocks.

In terms of composition, he experimented from the start with bold metaphors , free rhythms as well as sapphic punches . His choice of words, however, is considered to be relatively moderate and unpretentious, his style as deliberately simple, but very rhythmic and exciting due to surprising moments and leaps in association.

In terms of content, it is seldom a matter of looking at nature or abstract philosophical issues, but rather of reflecting on encounters in everyday life. Not the outside world of the media and world problems and also not the inside world of the navel gazing of neglected feelings, memories and relationship dramas are the topic here, but the focus on the moment and the essentials of the human area. A review by Deutschlandradio describes him as "governed by smells, colors, vibrations and nuances".

In terms of literary history, Tranströmer follows the tradition of Paul Valéry'sPoésie pure ” . He is close to the principle of “l'art pour l'art” (art for its own sake, without any further intended effect), but beyond the perfection of the form is quite interested in the “self-questioning of the psycho-logical”. He cannot be assigned to a literary school . In the German-language poetry scene of the beginning of the 21st century, Sarah Kirsch's poems, which are also as condensed as possible, are close to him, although these have always tended towards natural poetry . In the early 1970s, when the book Östersjöar was written, Tranströmer brought up the nature of the archipelago coast around Stockholm in his poems.

Tranströmer's poetics produced a language that managed without a torrent of speech and came close to the principles of Zen Buddhism: "Tired of everyone who comes along with words, but no language" (quote from the poem "From March '79", 1983 released).

The Encyclopædia Britannica judged Transtromer's linguistic power and powerful images made him the most translated Scandinavian poet in the English-speaking world of the 20th century . In total, it has been translated into over 50 languages. All of Tranströmer's poems have been translated into German by Hanns Grössel . In 1965 Nelly Sachs , who herself won the Nobel Prize the following year, translated a selection of his poems - seventeen in number - into German.


In 1966, Tranströmer and Bo Bergman received the Swedish Bellman Prize named after Carl Michael Bellman . For the poetry collection För levande och döda (German: For the living and the dead ), published in 1989 , he was awarded the prestigious literary prize of the Nordic Council in 1990. In 2011 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature . The Svenska Academies justified the award with the fact that Tranströmer “shows us new ways to the real in compressed, illuminating images”. Tranström has been nominated for the award annually since 1993.


Original editions

  • 17 dictators. Bonnier, Stockholm 1954.
  • Hemligheter på vägen. Bonnier, Stockholm 1958.
  • The halvfärdiga himlen. Bonnier, Stockholm 1962.
  • Sound and spår. Bonnier, Stockholm 1966.
  • Mörkerseende. Författarforlaget, Gothenburg 1970.
  • Stigar. Författarforlaget, Göteborg 1973, ISBN 91-7054-110-8 .
  • Ostersjöar. Bonnier, Stockholm 1974, ISBN 91-0-039367-3 .
  • Sanning barriers. Bonnier, Stockholm 1978, ISBN 91-0-043684-4 .
  • Det vilda torget. Bonnier, Stockholm 1983, ISBN 91-0-046048-6 .
  • For levande och döda. Bonnier, Stockholm 1989, ISBN 91-0-047672-2 .
  • Minnena ser mig [autobiography]. Bonnier, Stockholm 1993, ISBN 91-0-055716-1 .
  • Care gondolas. Bonnier, Stockholm 1996, ISBN 91-0-056232-7 .
  • Air Mail. Brev 1964–1990. Brevväxling mellan Tomas Tranströmer and Robert Bly, Bonnier, Stockholm 2001, ISBN 91-0-057384-1 .
  • Fängelse. Nio haikudikter från Hällby ungdomsfängelse (1959). Edition Edda, Uppsala 2001, ISBN 91-89352-10-6 .
  • The stora gåtan. Bonnier, Stockholm 2004, ISBN 91-0-010310-1 .
  • Jonas Ellerström (Ed.): Tomas Tranströmers ungdomsdikter. Ellerström, Lund 2011, ISBN 978-91-7247-261-7 .

German editions

  • Seventeen Poems , in: Swedish Poems. Selected and transferred by Nelly Sachs, Luchterhand: Neuwied - Berlin 1965, including Der Halbfertige Himmel (1962), p. 111.
  • Poems. Translations reviewed by the author by Friedrich Ege , Pierre Zekeli and GA Modersohn. Literary Colloquium, Berlin 1969.
  • Travel formulas. Adapted from Swedish by Friedrich Ege et al. Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin 1983.
  • The wild market place. [Det vilda torget]. Translated from the Swedish by Hanns Grössel . Hanser, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-446-14232-0 .
  • The moon and the ice age. Translation: Hanns Grössel. Piper, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-492-11379-6 .
  • Butterfly museum. Five autobiographical texts. Reclam, Leipzig 1992, ISBN 3-379-00740-4 .
  • For the living and the dead. [För levande och döda]. Translated from the Swedish by Hanns Grössel. Hanser, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-446-17390-0 .
  • All the poems. Translation: Hanns Grössel. Hanser, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-446-18961-0 .
  • The memories see me. [Minnena ser mig]. Translation by Hanns Grössel. Hanser, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-446-19670-6 .
  • Thirty-one poems. Bilingual edition. Translated by Hanns Grössel. Ed. Goldberg, Stade 2002, ISBN 3-00-009717-1 .
  • The big riddle. Poems. [Den stora gåtan]. Bilingual edition. Translated by Hanns Grössel. Hanser, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-446-20582-9 .
  • Ungdomsdikter / youth poems. Bilingual edition. Translated by Hanns Grössel. Kleinheinrich, Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-930754-68-7 .
  • Tomas Tranströmmer. (= Poetry album. 298 ). Märkischer Verlag, Wilhelmshorst 2012, ISBN 978-3-931329-98-3 .
  • I am carried in my shadow. Collected poems. Fischer paperback, 2013, ISBN 978-3-596-19675-3 .

Audio book:



  • Lennart Karlström: Tomas Tranströmer. En bibliografi. (= Acta Bibliothecae regiae Stockholmiensis, 50, 66). Kungl. Biblioteket, Stockholm 1990 (Volume 1) and Stockholm 2001 (Volume 2), ISBN 91-7000-134-0 and ISBN 91-87264-60-9 .


  • Kjell Espmark: Resans formler. En study i Tomas Tranströmers poesi. Norstedt, Stockholm 1983, ISBN 91-1-833212-9 .
  • Joanna Bankier: The Sense of Time in the Poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. Berkeley 1985 [Ph. D. in Comparative Literature]
  • Staffan Bergsten: Den trösterika gåtan. Tio essäer om Tomas Tranströmer's poetry. FIB: s lyrikklubb, Stockholm 1989, ISBN 91-550-3424-1 .
  • Detlef Brennecke: From Tegnér to Tranströmer. Twelve essays on Swedish literature. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-631-43902-4 .
  • Niklas Schiöler: Concentrations const. Tomas Tranströmers senare poesi. Bonnier, Stockholm 1999, ISBN 91-0-056913-5 . (also Diss. Göteborg 1999)
  • Staffan Bergsten: Tomas Tranströmer. Ett dictary portrait. Bonnier, Stockholm 2011, ISBN 978-91-0-012515-8 .

Web links

Commons : Tomas Tranströmer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Tomas Tranströmer död. Svenska Dagbladet, March 27, 2015.
  2. a b The Nobel Prize in Literature of the Year 2011: Tomas Tranströmer ( Memento of the original from March 30, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at (accessed on November 11, 2012). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Torsten Rönnerstrand: Poesi ur afasi - ett tranströmerskt mirakel. In: Tvärrsnitt. 2006 ( Online version ( Memento of the original from November 6, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. En mästare finner nya ord. In: Dagens Nyheter. March 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Swedish poems, selected and transcribed by Nelly Sachs - Edith Södergran, Johannes Edfelt, Ragnar Thoursie and Tomas Tranströmer. Luchterhand, Neuwied / Berlin 1965.
  6. Sweden's Transtromer wins Nobel literature prize Reuters, October 6, 2011.