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Lindqvist, Sven 1932- (Sven Oskar Lindqvist)

Lindqvist, Sven 1932- (Sven Oskar Lindqvist)

PERSONAL:

Born March 28, 1932, in Stockholm, Sweden; son of Oscar (a teacher) and Signhild (a teacher) Lindqvist; married Cecilia Norman (a photographer; divorced); married Agneta Stark (an economist), 1986; children: (with Norman) Aron, Clara. Education: Degrees from the University of Stockholm and Peking University; University of Stockholm, Ph.D., 1966.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Bonnier Group Agency, Box 3959, Stockholm, 103 63, Sweden; Pierre Astier & associés, 4 rue Frédéric-Schneider, Hall 10, Paris, 750 18, France. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Contributor to Dagens Nyheter, 1951—; cultural attaché, Peking, China, 1961-62; member of Royal Commission, 1967-74; board member of Swedish National Library, 1988-2000.

MEMBER:

Swedish Union of Authors, PEN.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Dobloug Prize, Swedish Academy, 1969; Little Nobel Prize, Swedish Popular Movements, 1973; Lotten von Kraemer Prize, De nio, 1999; Kellgren Prize, Swedish Academy, 2000; honorary doctorate from Uppsala University; honorary professorship from the Swedish government.

WRITINGS:

Ett förslag (title means "A Proposal"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1955.

Reklamen är livsfarlig (title means "Advertising Is Lethal"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1957.

Praktika, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1962.

(With wife, Cecilia Lindqvist) Kina inifrån, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1963, translation by Sylvia Clayton published as China in Crisis, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1965.

(With Cecilia Lindqvist) Asiatisk erfarenhet, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1964.

Dagbok och diktverk. En studie i Vilhelm Ekelunds Nordiskt och klassiskt, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1966.

Myten om Wu Tao-tzu, (title means "The Myth of Wu Tao-tzu") Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1967.

Slagskuggan, Latin Amerika inför 70-talet, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1969, translation by Keith Bradfield published as The Shadow: Latin America Faces the Seventies, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1972.

Självklara saker, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1970.

Jord och makt i Sydamerika, Aldus (Stockholm, Sweden), 1974, translation by Paul Britten Austin, published as Land and Power in South America, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1979.

Arbetsbyte: Tre essayer om demokrati och arbetsfördelning, Aldus (Stockholm, Sweden), 1975.

Gräv där du står: Hur man utforskar ett jobb, (title means "Dig Where You Stand: How to Research a Job"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1978.

En gift mans dagbok (title means "The Diary of a Married Man"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1978.

Hamiltons slutsats: Politiska artiklar från 70-talet, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1980.

(With Cecilia Lindqvist) Kina nu: Vad skulle Mao ha sagt? ett reportage, Förlags AB Marieberg (Stockholm, Sweden), 1980.

En älskares dagbok (title means "The Diary of a Lover"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1981.

En underjordisk stjärnhimmel: Personligt kalendarium (title means "An Underground Starry Sky"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1984.

Elefantens fot: Resa i Baluchistan och Afghanistan (title means "The Elephant's Foot: Journey in Baluchistan and Afghanistan"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1985.

Bänkpress, 1988, revised, translation by Sarah Death published as Bench Press, Granta Books (London, England), 2003.

(With Stig Hansen and Clas Thor) Av nyfikenhet öppnade jag dörren i muren: Reportage 1960-1990, Ordfronts (Stockholm, Sweden), 1991.

Utrota varenda jävel, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1992, translation by Joan Tate published as Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide, New Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Livstidsmänniskan: Om meningars mening, (title means "The Lifer: Key Sentences Analyzed"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1992, translation by Joan Tate published as Desert Divers, Granta Books (London, England), 2000.

Ökendykarna, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1994, translation by Joan Tate published as Desert Divers, Granta Books (London, England), 2000.

Antirasister: Människor och argument i kampen mot rasismen 1750-1900, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1995, translation by Joan Tate published as The Skull Measurer's Mistake: And Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out against Racism, New Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Nu dog du: Bombernas århundrade, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1999, translation by Linda Haverty Rugg published as A History of Bombing, New Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Framtidslandet: Välfärd, kvinnor och män, arbete, Ordfront (Stockholm, Sweden), 2000.

Fadern, Sonen Och Den Heliga Motorcykeln: Essaer, Ordfront (Stockholm, Sweden), 2006.

Terra Nullius: A Journey through No One's Land, translated by Sarah Death, New Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Avsikt att förinta, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist began his career writing for newspapers and magazines and, with his wife, Cecilia, wrote two commentaries on China. His En älskares dagbok ("The Diary of a Lover") and En gift mans dagbok ("The Diary of a Married Man") are departures from his usual social commentary, in that they are memoirs of his life and marriage to Cecilia.

Bänkpress, translated and published fifteen years later as Bench Press, is about bodybuilding, but also about physical preparation for extensive travel in the Sahara. Lindqvist was fifty-three and suffering from backaches when he met a skinhead bodybuilder who opened his eyes to the idea of pursuing his own improved physique and health. Spectator reviewer Michael Glover noted that "it also unlocked the hitherto barred door to a rich new dream-life." Glover wrote: "This brief, aphoristic autobiographical essay leads us gently through that conversion experience."

Robert Twigger noted in the Times Literary Supplement that the book, first written in the late 1980s, was even more relevant at the time he reviewed the much-later English translation, "evidence that Lindqvist identified in the cult of body sculpting a genuine trend rather than a cyclical fad." Twigger wrote that "Lindqvist sees the bench press as a metaphor for a benign politics in which all physical improvement is incremental, reformist rather than revolutionary and, barring the use of steroids, subject to real limitation. We are not so realistic in the way we approach societal improvement. Bodybuilders have an ideal physique in mind which is attainable."

Many more of Lindqvist's books have been translated into English, including several of his travel books. The title of Lindqvist's Utrota varenda jävel (Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide) is taken from Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness and is the final sentence uttered by Kurtz, the central character. Lindqvist writes of his visit to the Algerian desert, armed with his laptop and a supply of one hundred floppy discs, and of Europe's horrific history in Africa and how it opened the door to German dictator Adolf Hitler's extermination of millions of Jews. Lindqvist contends that the generations of people who were born and raised following World War II make assumptions about the desirability of equality and tolerance and the preservation of diversity. Foreign Affairs writer Gail M. Gerhart noted that Lindqvist feels that these people "insufficiently appreciate the hold of social Darwinism over preceding generations, among whom there were reputable intellectual defenders of genocide—the extermination of ‘less fit’ peoples whose lands and resources were coveted by more powerful rivals."

Ökendykarna, translated as Desert Divers, is a book of one hundred short diary entries that have as their subjects Lindqvist's dreams, memories of his childhood and his relationship with his emotionally absent father, a history of colonization of the Sahara by the French, and the resultant massacres and exploitation, both literary and actual (sexual). Lindqvist's subjects include writers Pierre Loti, Isabelle Eberhardt, who traveled through Algeria as a man, pilot and author of the The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and Andre Gide, who in his Fruits of the Earth blamed Oscar Wilde for the weakness that drew him to Oriental boys. Lindqvist also writes of the failures in his marriage.

Nicholas Howe wrote in Research in African Literature: "If sex is not Lindqvist's pursuit, what drives him into the desert? His quest is more psychic or spiritual, more an attempt to empty his life of its material possessions and sometimes, one suspects, its material being." Howe went on to write: "This is clearly a driven, sometimes a haunted man. The desert for him becomes the place to wash himself of his past."

In Antirasister: Människor och argument i kampen mot rasismen 1750-1900, translated as The Skull Measurer's Mistake: And Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out against Racism, Lindqvist profiles twenty-two eighteenth-and nineteenth-century figures who argued against racism. During the Western expansion of the "Age of Reason," societies looked for scientific reasons to satisfy their own self-interests. The title refers to the pronouncements of German surgeon Friedrich Tiedemann, who criticized the theory that whites had superior intelligence because they had larger skulls than people of color. Lindqvist's subjects include Mary Kingsley, author of The Silent South, George Cable, and South African activist Olive Schreiner, who was despised both for being a feminist and because she worked for the right of black South African women to vote. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "a useful, unpretentious volume that may give context and hope to the fight against racism."

Nu dog du: Bombernas århundrade, translated as A History of Bombing, is a study of aerial bombardment back to the year 762 A.D., but most of which concentrates on the twentieth century. Guy Mannes-Abbott described the work in a London Independent review as "a book about a kind of global lottery in which all of us are players, sponsors, and losers. Lindqvist calls all the big numbers: the thousands of degrees centigrade reached on the streets of Dresden and Hiroshima, the million Hiroshimas in the world's nuclear store. He details everything from the first bomb made in twelfth-century China, filled with porcelain shards, to the number of times we can blow ourselves up today. It sounds numbingly familiar, but this book will make you burn anew." In addition to the most infamous bombings, Lindqvist writes of others that are less well known, such as the 1962 British bombing of Malay with 35,000 tons of defoliant that a Royal Air Force review found did "more harm than good."

Lindqvist told Mannes-Abbott that A History of Bombing evolved while he wrote The Skull Measurer's Mistake, as he realized that bombing was a major means of eliminating targeted races and groups. He has structured the book as 399 short paragraphs arranged into twenty-two parallel and chronological sections. Nation contributor Trevor Corson wrote that Lindqvist's lesson is that "destruction and slaughter from the air usually engender rage, not resignation, and the repercussions ramify past our powers of prediction. After the attacks against civilians in New York and the defense apparatus in Washington, Americans know this anger more than anyone. But Americans would also be naive if they failed to recognize that their attackers may have felt the same way, and probably will again."

Lindqvist's 2007 book, Terra Nullius: A Journey through No One's Land, was called "the latest instalment in Sven Lindqvist's confrontation with the genocidal consequences of Western advancement" by London Independent contributor Guy Mannes-Abbott. Translated from Swedish by Sarah Death, the book examines the devastating effects of the British invasion on Australia's Aboriginal peoples. "Terra Nullius" from the book's title means "No One's Land" and refers to British view that the land there belonged to nobody. In his book, Lindqvist goes back to the earliest history of the continent millions of years ago and continues on to the early settlement of Australia and its massacre of Aborigines. He then documents the barbarous treatment of the natives that continues throughout the twentieth century, including nuclear tests that were conducted in 1963.

In the course of his historical account, the author takes the reader through a seven-thousand-mile journey through Australia, "lyrically describing its landscape, flora and fauna," according to Geoff Dyer writing on the News from Nowhere Web site. While much of the book focuses on the historical Australia, the author condemns the modern Australian government and people for what he sees as their failure not only to acknowledge the horrific past but also to atone for it. "Terra Nullius is a work of urgent necessity and a heart-warming marvel," wrote in Mannes-Abbott in the London Independent. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "a gruesome, chilling anthropology lesson from an unconventional instructor."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Lindqvist, Sven, Bänkpress, 1988, revised, translation by Sarah Death published as Bench Press, Granta Books (London, England), 2003.

Lindqvist, Sven, En älskares dagbok (title means "The Diary of a Lover"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1981.

Lindqvist, Sven, En gift mans dagbok (title means "The Diary of a Married Man"), Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1978.

Lindqvist, Sven, Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide, translation by Joan Tate, New Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Lindqvist, Sven, Ökendykarna, Bonnier (Stockholm, Sweden), 1994, translation by Joan Tate published as Desert Divers, Granta Books (London, England), 2000.

PERIODICALS

African Business, May, 2002, reviews of Desert Divers and Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 50.

American Political Science Review, December, 1974, W. Raymond Duncan, review of The Shadow: Latin America Faces the Seventies, p. 1821.

Booklist, April 1, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 1329; April 15, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of Terra Nullius: A Journey through No One's Land, p. 8.

Choice, July-August, 1973, review of The Shadow, p. 812.

Counterpoise, April, 1998, Jennifer Martin, review of The Skull Measurer's Mistake: And Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out against Racism, p. 38.

English Historical Review, June, 2002, Simon Ball, review of A History of Bombing, p. 757.

Foreign Affairs, November-December, 1996, Gail M. Gerhart, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 169.

Guardian (Manchester, England), July 14, 2007, Hugh Brody, "Sven Lindqvist's Terra Nullius Recounts Europe's Disastrous Collision with the Peoples of Australia, says Hugh Brody."

Harvard Human Rights Journal, spring, 2002, Jonathan Masur, review of A History of Bombing, pp. 342-344.

Historian, spring, 1998, Glenn Melancon, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 685.

Independent (London, England), May 12, 2001, Guy Mannes-Abbott, review of A History of Bombing and interview, p. 9; May 1, 2007, Guy Mannes-Abbott, review of Terra Nullius.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1997, review of The Skull Measurer's Mistake, p. 617; March 15, 2007, review of Terra Nullius.

Library Journal, March 1, 1996, R. James Tobin, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 90; April 15, 1997, David Keymer, review of The Skull Measurer's Mistake, p. 96.

Monthly Review, January, 1997, Camille Goodison, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 45.

Nation, October 29, 2001, Trevor Corson, review of A History of Bombing, p. 25.

New Internationalist, June, 2002, Peter Whittaker, review of A History of Bombing, p. 31.

New Scientist, July 26, 1997, Barbara Kiser, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 61.

New Statesman, August 7, 2000, Richard Canning, review of Desert Divers, p. 42; May 14, 2001, Robert Winder, review of A History of Bombing, p. 53.

Publishers Weekly, January 29, 1996, review of Exterminate All the Brutes, p. 90; March 24, 1997, review of The Skull Measurer's Mistake, p. 64; January 15, 2002, review of A History of Bombing, p. 59; March 5, 2007, review of Terra Nullius, p. 50.

Research in African Literature, summer, 2003, Nicholas Howe, review of Desert Divers, pp. 192-198.

Spectator, January 18, 2003, Michael Glover, review of Bench Press, p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, February 14, 2003, Robert Twigger, review of Bench Press, p. 25.

World Literature Today, spring, 1982, Brita Stendahl, review of En älskares dagbok, p. 355; winter, 1984, R. Wright, review of En gift mans dagbok, p. 121; spring, 1991, Erik Thygesen, review of Ökendykarna, p. 316.

ONLINE

Granta.com,http://www.granta.com/ (December 14, 2007), "Granta: Interview: Sven Lindqvist."

News from Nowhere,http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/ (December 14, 2007), Geoff Dyer, review of Terra Nullius.

Sven Lindqvist Home Page,http://www.svenlindqvist.net (December 14, 2007).

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