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The Nobel who saved another Nobel laureate from Nazism

Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf facilitated in 1940 the safe passage for the escape of the poet Nelly Sachs

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The Nobel who saved another Nobel laureate from Nazism

On December 10, 1966 German poet Nelly Sachs (1891-1970) received Nobel Prize in literature in Stockholm, shared with Shmuel Agnon. In his speech re was something more than gratitude: "In summer of 1939 a German friend came to Sweden to visit Selma Lagerlöf to ask her to find a refuge for my mor and me (...). In spring of 1940, after tortuous months, we arrived in Stockholm. The occupation of Denmark and Norway had already taken place. The great novelist was gone. "

Selma Lagerlöf, "The great novelist", first woman to win Nobel Prize of Literature (1909), author translated into half a hundred languages, died on March 16, 1940 without knowing if his intervention had sufficed to save poet and his mor , of Jewish roots, of Nazi extermination machinery. Thanks to ir mediation, y fled Berlin on last plane that took off to Stockholm. The safe-conduct had arrived at same time as deportation order of two women to a Nazi camp, according to Belén Yuste, curator of Women's exhibition Nobel, who can be visited at National Museum of Natural Sciences, in Madrid, until 20 March, and where this story is reminisced.

Nelly Sachs was saved from Nazism but, like so many or victims, she survived trauma of survivor. He stopped writing. That romantic poetry he had cultivated did not serve Holocaust. He kept silent until he received next blow: The disappearance of a love of youth in a concentration camp. Poetry returned in anor way, in service of memory, of horror. Prayers for dead groom was his first poem in Sweden, included in book in Abodes of Death, published in 1986 in Spain in a collection of Orbis dedicated to Nobel prizes.

Hyperactivity epistolary

Lagerlöf and Sachs never met, but ir relationship began long before 1940, when German read dazzled saga of Gösta Berling, Swedish writer. She was 15 years old and decided to write her up for admiration. Lagerlöf answered him and inaugurated one of many epistolary threads he would feed during his life.

Selected works by Selma Lagerlöf

saga of Gösta Berling (1891). First prose work, has better reception in Denmark than in Sweden. Shortly after Lagerlöf leaves teaching.

Jerusalem I and II (1901-1902). Written after his travels in Orient.

Nils Holgersson's wonderful journey through Sweden. (1906). Commissioned by Swedish Board of Education, to teach geography, is considered Quixote of children.

Emperor of Portugal. (1914). It is inspired by a true story that occurred near house of writer.

Marbacka: History of an inheritance. (1922) Memoirs

Later, in 1921, first publication of Nelly Sachs in Germany, legends and stories, is dedicated to Nordic writer, who praises work in a short postcard: "My most heartfelt thanks for such a beautiful book. I couldn't have written it better myself. " Humor and security. Two features of Lagerlöf, which dot its huge epistolary file, which contains more than 40,000 letters, according to Elizabeth Lagerlöf, secretary of Marbacka Foundation, which manages legacy of Swedish author, on which yesterday gave a conference in library National.

"She is still a living author at all levels of cultural life. His works are being represented right now in Stockholm and Gonburg, and in region where he was born re is a atre that adapts his books for which some 20,000 people spend every year. It is also an icon for feminist movement, inaugurated International Conference of Suffragettes held in Stockholm in 1911 and wrote about strong women, who could do same things as men, "says Elizabeth Lagerlöf, niece-granddaughter of Author, during an interview held yesterday at Swedish Embassy in Madrid.

Selma Lagerlöf was born in 1858 in a region close to Norwegian border in a wealthy family who would go unless. At age of three he suffered paralysis, which incapacitated her to walk for next four years and lastró her mobility for life. He studied to be a teacher, only occupation allowed to Swedes n, and exerted for a decade until his first novel, The Saga of Gösta Berling, triumphs (before in Denmark that in Sweden) and allows him to concentrate in literature. "I'll be elected to Swedish Academy and win Nobel Prize. That should not concern you, "Lagerlöf trusts in a letter of 1903 to writer Sophie Elkan, who will travel through Egypt and Palestine, among or places.

Enlarge photo Nelly Sachs receives Nobel Prize in 1961. Bettmann Archive

He got it, but it didn't turn out easy. The opposition of Carl David af Wirsén, secretary of Swedish Academy for 29 years, thwarted his candidacy five times. "As soon as his name came out in nominations, Wirsén proposed ors more appropriate. He did not like new literature and that was a woman did not help. The Nobel prizes should only reward men, in ir opinion, "Elizabeth Lagerlöf told yesterday.

"All modern Swedish literature, from Strindberg to Selma Lagerlöf, was marginalized at time of Wirsén," says Kjell Espmark, who belongs to Swedish Academy since 1981, in book The Nobel Prize in Literature (Nordic), where he reviewed first century of history of award. "Selma Lagerlöf's work is truly in clear opposition to Wirsén's aestics," says Espmark, referring to fantastic realism of author of Nils Holgersson's wonderful journey through Sweden. "Reality and fiction are sometimes interspersed in it in a way that deprives narrative of objectivity", Wirsén censorship, which would have suffered in se times of autofiction where self mixes with fiction.

Selected Works of Nelly Sachs

in abodes of death. (1947). includes poem Prayers for Dead groom, first who wrote in Sweden.

Escape and Metamorphosis. (1958). That year he received poetry Prize from Swedish Writers Association.

travel to transparency. (1960). He writes it at turn of his first trip to Germany, which disrupts it and forces her into a psychiatric hospital.

correspondence with Paul celan. (Trotta, 2007). Translated by Antonio Javier Bueno Tubía.

travel to transparency. (Trotta, 2009). Complete poetic work. Translated by José Luis Reina Pabondon.

Selma Lagerlöf did not do autofiction, but extracted much of his arguments from reality as Emperor of Portugal, where he addresses a story of love, alienation and prostitution that occurred near his house in Marbacka, or money of Mr. Arne, which is inspired In real crime of a priest's family and reunion of only survivor with one of Assassins years later. "He wrote about things that happened," says his niece-granddaughter.

The writer entered Swedish Academy in 1914, as he had predicted, and before having right to vote (female suffrage was approved in 1919). From his position he tried to compensate for hostility that authors had aroused, giving ir support to female candidacies, such as Italian Grazia Deledda (Nobel Literature in 1926) or Spanish Concha Espina, which was proposed on 16 occasions without success. After reading metal of dead, translated into Swedish, Lagerlöf, wrote that only that work was enough to received Nobel.

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