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The Reception of the Swedish Retranslation of James Joyce’s Ulysses(2012)

Journal article
Authors Elisabeth Bladh
Published in Humanities
Volume 8
Issue 3
Pages 1-16
ISSN 2076-0787
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 1-16
Language en
Keywords James Joyce; Ulysses; Swedish literary criticism; modernism; retranslation; reception history
Subject categories General Literature Studies, Specific Literatures


This article focuses on how the second Swedish translation of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses (2012) was received by Swedish critics. The discussion of the translation is limited to a number of paratextual features that are present in the translation, including a lengthy postscript, and to the translation’s reviews in the daily press. The release of the second Swedish translation was a major literary event and was widely covered in national and local press. Literary critics unanimously welcomed the retranslation; praising the translator’s raw, vulgar and physical language, his humour, and the musicality of his expression. Regarding its layout, title, and style, the new translation is closer to the original than the first translation from 1946 (revised in 1993). The postscript above all emphasizes the humanistic value of Joyce’s novel and its praise of the ordinary. It also addresses postcolonial perspectives and stresses the novel’s treatment of love and pacifism. These aspects were also positively received by the reviewers. For many reviewers, the main merit of the novel is found in its tribute to sensuality and the author’s joyful play with words. Negative comments tended to relate to the novel’s well-known reputation of being difficult to read. One reviewer, however, strongly questioned the current value of the experimental nature of the novel. Opinions also diverged on whether the retranslation replaces or merely supplements the first Swedish translation.

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