tisdag 26 februari 2019

"Burning Magnesium" reviewed

My novel Burning Magnesium was published last year. Now, a rather favorable review has been published. The review is in Swedish and this is a summary in English.

Carl Oscar Andersson is a Swedish author, in his native land primarily known for his novel Gautica (2017) [review in Swedish]. Actually, Gautica is more than a novel; it's a successful blending of the essay, the novel and the closet drama, telling of the legendary Gothic people -- its Swedish origin and its role in Roman history etc.

Andersson also writes chronicles and reviews on the Swedish identitarian site Motpol. And lately he published a review of Burning Magnesium, my novel about WWII and the Eastern Front.

As intimated the review is in Swedish but hereby some highlights translated into English -- because the novel is in English.

Andersson has some knowledge of war novels, mentioning names like Remarque, Hassel and Jünger. And then he for instance says this about my novel:

To read Svensson's work is a breath of fresh air. (...)

Even from the start the story has a different approach than other, similar stories of WWII -- and this is due to its philosophical slant. (...)

It's impressive that a Sweden-born author like Svensson has managed to write such a gripping novel in a foreign language, even if it's English. There are many pitfalls in directly trying to translate concepts and literary passages; however, Svensson has found a viable way of expressing himself in English.
Further, Andersson notes the Faustian perspective of the novel, capturing the wilful, striving character of the novel's hero, Arno Greif. For instance he says the following about him:

He's an interesting protagonist, this Arno Greif, a man seeing war in a different way from others. His war experience isn't just a catastrophe, not for the one who wants to go to the limits of life (like persons in less dramatic circumstances going parachuting out of planes, throwing themselves from cliffs in bungy jump, going for speed records etc., activities from a modern perspective as irrational as war).
This kind of hits the mark. The Faustian, Nietzschean lifestyle of "balancing on the edge of volcanoes" in order to raise oneself mentally, this is not just a right-wing attitude, expressed in a novel like mine. It's rather common among certain westerners -- the intimated bungy jumpers, skydivers and performers of extreme sport who today are lauded for their exploits.

As a closing remark Andersson says this of Burning Magnesium:

For the reader wishing for a war novel that deviates from the moralizing, pacifist pattern, Jünger’s Storm of Steel has long been the obvious alternative. With his work, Burning Magnesium, Lennart Svensson has given us yet another alternative.
Here is Anderssons's review in Swedish.

Buy the novel on Amazon.

Buy the novel on Logik.

The Andersson Review on Motpol [in Swedish]
My Presentation of Burning Magnesium
Ernst Jünger -- A Portrait

måndag 18 februari 2019

"Burning Magnesium" recenserad

This about a review in Swedish of my novel Burning Magnesium. For its part, the book is presented in English here. -- Min roman Burning Magnesium gavs ut förra året. Nu har den recenserats på Motpol.

Carl Oscar Andersson är en svensk författare och skribent, känd för romanen Gautica (2017) och aforismsamlingen Tankar bortom röken (2018). Han skriver även på den identitära sajten Motpol. Och där har han nu recenserat min roman Burning Magnesium.

Andersson kan för sin del relatera till krigsroman-genren. Remarque, Hassel, Jünger snitslar av det hela. Och sedan säger han bland annat detta om Objektet Ifråga, Burning Magnesium:
Det är en frisk fläkt att läsa Svenssons verk. (...)

Redan från början skiljer sig berättelsen från andra motsvarande berättelser om andra världskriget genom sin filosofiska djupsida. (...)

Det är imponerande att en svenskfödd författare som Svensson lyckas skriva en så gripande roman på ett främmande språk, förvisso engelska. Det är lätt hänt att försöka sig på direktöversättningar av svenska begrepp och litterära vändningar men Svensson har hittat ett personligt uttryck för sin engelska.
Andersson noterar bokens faustiska perspektiv. Man kan säga att han har blick för det viljeliv, den stegrade livspuls som boken skildrar. Han säger bland annat detta om bokens huvudperson, Arno Greif:
Som protagonist är Arno Greif mycket intressant, han har en annan tagning på kriget än de flesta. Erfarenheten av kriget är inte katastrofal, inte för den som vill spänna vakenheten till sina gränser och uppleva livet invid dess absoluta gränser (vilket personer som i mindre dramatiska sammanhang eftersträvar när de hoppar fallskärm ur flygplan, kastar sig ut från klippor med Bungyjump, färdas i snabba hastigheter, etc., aktiviteter som ur ett modernt perspektiv är lika irrationella som kriget).
Detta är tämligen träffande. Den faustiska, nietzscheanska livsstilen med "att balansera på vulkankraterns rand" för att höja sig, den är ju inte bara en högerföreteelse, yttrad i en roman som min. Den är ganska vanlig bland vissa av dagens västerlänningar -- de antydda bungy-jumpers, fallskärmshoppare och äventyrssportare som idag hyllas för sina insatser.

Avslutningsvis säger Andersson detta om Burning Magnesium:
För den som vill läsa en krigsroman som avviker från det moraliserande, pacifistiska perspektivet, har Jüngers I stålstormen länge varit det uppenbara alternativet. Med sitt verk, Burning Magnesium, har Lennart Svensson givit oss ytterligare ett alternativ.
Du finner recensionen här.

Burning Magnesium recenseras på Motpol
Andersson: Gautica (inledning till recension i Nya Tider)
Andersson: Tankar bortom röken (inledning till recension i Nya Tider)
Burning Magnesium presenterad på svenska här på Galaxen

tisdag 12 februari 2019

Good Reads, February 2019

Hereby some reading tips. Mostly classics. -- An earlier entry with the same character, short reading tips, is this one.

Dante Aligheri, Divina Commedia (1320). -- Dante on a guided tour through Hell, noting with satisfaction how an old enemy of his is tormented. OK. But there is more. A lot more.

Poul Anderson, The broken Sword (1954). -- Militant paganism.

John Tolkien, Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1950s). -- Of course the Tolkien magnum opus has some power and beauty. And it may have a function as a "gateway drug to Traditionalism". But -- overall, as a mere reading pastime, maybe I can do without Tolkien nowadays. -- The basic feeling of LOTR the book seems to be realism. The style can blossom at times (Lothlorien, Tom Bombadill's house) but in the decisive moments, when trying to describe the "ultimate evil" they are fighting, Tolkien retreats into silence, his characters saying "I won't speak of this" or "too horrible to mention". This can be allowed in a children's book but not in serious adult fiction. -- Against this, I would like to hold forth H. P. Lovecraft. He at least tries to capture "the dark," if only with some impressionist paint brushes. Lovecraft has will to style, German Stilwille. Conversely, Tolkien merely has a will to note the exact location of a place in relation to THE MAP, the ever-present corollary of his opus. -- Lovecraft's universe had no definite form, it came afterwards with the efforts of August Derleth and others. Tolkien's universe on the other hand seems to have been construed with the background first, including maps. -- Lovecraft relies on his style, Tolkien relies on his map.

E. R. Burroughs, A Princess of Mars (1910). -- A science fantasy rigorist lesson: to speak the truth, to shoot and to ride a thoat.

Lovecraft, H. P. -- shorts by HPL that I recently have read and enjoyed, the style rewarding me in full measure, are The Outsider, The White Ship and Poetry and the Gods. The latter is an early tale of poetry being the conveyor of eternal truth. Keats's wisdom "beauty is truth, truth is beauty" is quoted in it. This is aestheticism as ethics. This is Plotinus and thus, the Perennial Tradition that even Actionism is a part of.

Voltaire, History of Charles XII (1731). -- Reads like an exciting, studied novel. Unreliable in some details; Voltaire is lead astray by his eloquent style, often going for a cocksure summation to compensate for lacking knowledge. So, what he says of the Swedish climate, of the battle of Narva etc. we can discard. However, on the whole this book is rather convincing as a portrait of a great man. Also, for the serious student, it can be said that Voltaire actually had spoken to some of the participants of the drama, like the Polish king Leszczinsky. Thus, Votaire's book becomes a curious mixture of lies, half-truths, valid and invalid interpretations and solid fact, not found anywhere else.

Machiavelli, The Prince (1532). -- Strong. Wise. Majestic.

Gordon R. Dickson, Tactics of Mistake (1971). -- A military commander winning battles with minimum loss, because he's so smart. Vaguely irritating as such but on the whole also conveying a lot of wisdom.

Good Reads, November 2018
Timeline of Conservative SF
SF Seen from the Right
Illustration: Robert Svensson

tisdag 5 februari 2019

Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime, The Rime, I love this Rime. All of it.

So where to begin? I guess I'll start with some random lines. Like the ones Iron Maiden quoted in their eponymous song, "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" on their 1985 album Powerslave:
Day after day, day after day,
we stuck, nor breath nor motion;
as idle as a painted ship
upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
and all the boards did shrink;
water, water every where
nor any drop to drink.
These are strong lines, vividly capturing the desolation of the ill-fated ship in these death-marked waters. It's the curse of the albatross, the bird that the mariner hath slain. And why did he do that? It's not clear, he just did it, a boyish deed that generates bad karma. He shot it with bow and arrow, took the majestical bird down from its flight in the skies above the ship.

And there's more: there's Death itself approaching, or, to be precise, Death and Death-In-Life, whatever that means. Spooky it is though, and even spookier when some accursed sea-creatures surround the mariner's ship, the ship he now sails alone as the crew has been pixilated by Death's curse:
Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
they moved in tracks of shining white,
and when they reared, the elfish light
fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
they coiled and swam; and every track
was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
their beauty might declare:
a spring of love gushed from my heart,
and I blessed them unaware:
sure my kind saint took pity on me,
and I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;
and from my neck so free
the albatross fell off, and sank
like lead into the sea.
Symbolic, aint it? The bird hung around his neck falls off and light shines in, the curse seems to be lifted, allayed, tempered -- but alas, it's still there! The trials and tribulations are not over, this ride has many facets. The mariner still has to travel across many-a dark waters and desolate seas.

- - -

As you can see I'm writing about Samuel T. Coleridge's "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner." Now I'll go on with the show, even trying to reach some sort of conclusion.

Above I told you about this and that, about the mariner going about some trials and tribulations on a certain sea voyage. He is for example freed from a certain curse but not entirely saved as his shipmates have become undead ghouls in the process. Anyhow, the journey continues. The ship is ushered on from beneath by a benign water-spirit, having helped the ship previously during the voyage:
Under the keel nine fathom deep,
from the land of mist and snow,
the spirit slid: and it was he
that made the ship to go.
Note the overall style in this work: a mixture between lyricism and epic narrative. Epic poems, narratives in verse form, went out of style soon after this one (or had already), i. e. in the early 19th century, but at the same time Coleridge was a lyrical poet so in this sense he was able to communicate with the modern audience. And with today's audience too, as his work is timeless.

- - -

The curse is off but still the mariner is surrounded by his undead crew mates, looking at him with empty eyes ("all fixed on me their stony eyes, / that in the moon did glitter"). On they go, gliding over the water's surface if by wind or magic I don't know, and then the mariner descries something familiar: the harbour town, his home port, the one they left so long ago for this fateful journey.
Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
the light-house top I see!
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
is this mine own countree?
Into the harbour they sail. And at the same time the souls of the undead sailors take leave of their earthly vessels, having become shiny seraphs aiming for heaven:
This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
it was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
each one a lovely light;

This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
no voice did they impart --
no voice; but oh! the silence sank
like music on my heart.
The conclusion is well nigh.

- - -

Yeah, verily: for now a pilot approaches -- and then the great ship suddenly sinks. The mariner is rescued aboard the pilot boat and is rowed ashore. And then he's off to tell his story to anyone he meets ("this soul has been alone on a wide, wide sea"...).

This poem has many esoterical, pious traits, like the water-spirit, the sea-creatures that become friendly and the penance with the albatross hung around the neck. And at the end we have a certain hermit along in the pilot boat, and this we get to know about the hermit's life: "He singeth loud his godly hymns / that he maketh in the wood." And:
This hermit good lives in that wood
which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineres
that come from a far countree.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve --
he hath a cushion plump:
it is the moss that wholly hides
the rotted old-oak-stump.
The framework of the poem is the mariner telling his story to a certain wedding guest, right before the ceremony is about to beging. That's where it starts off and that's where it ends, the mariner saying this to the wedding guest:
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
to thee, thou wedding-guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
all things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us,
he made and loveth all.
I like the pious mood of this conclusion. The Rime isn't just some romantical outing, some stylistical showing off -- no, it's a downright spiritual, esoterical, finely vibrating piece of crystalline truth, and yet kind of restrained. I mean, the religious feeling is expressed in tangible, symbolical terms and not going about it with psalm-song, priests and Bible-beating. A perfect ending to a perfect Rime.

"Burning Magnesium" (2018)
Bibliography of Svensson
Ernst Jünger -- A Portrait (2014)
Science Fiction Seen from the Right (2016)
Actionism (2017)