Scobbie, Irene 1930-

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Scobbie, Irene 1930-

PERSONAL: Born April 16, 1930, in county of Northumberland, England; daughter of Robert and Isabella Scobbie. Ethnicity: “Anglo-Saxon.” Education: Attended University of Durham (Newcastle upon Tyne), and University College, London.

ADDRESSES: Home—Corbridge, Northumberland, England.

CAREER: Swedish Institute of English, secretary; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, assistant lecturer in Swedish; University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, began as lecturer, became reader and head of Scandinavian department; University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, reader and department head.

MEMBER: Society for Northern Studies (Edinburgh, Scotland), Swedish English Literary Translators Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Decodated Commander of the Polar Star of Sweden; honorary M.A., Cambridge University.


Pär Lagerkvist: An Introduction, Swedish Institute (Stockholm, Sweden), 1962.

Sweden, Praeger (New York, NY), 1972.

Pär Lagerkvist: Gast hos verligheten, [Hull, England], 1974.

(Editor and contributor) Essays on Swedish Literature, University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland), 1979, revised and enlarged edition published as Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature, Norvik Press (Chester Springs, PA), 1988, revised edition, 1999.

(With P. Holmes) An Anthology of Modern Swedish Literature from 1880 to the Present Day, [Hull, England], 1980.

(Editor) Proceedings of 8th Biennial Conference of Teachers of Scandinavian Studies, University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1989.

Historical Dictionary of Sweden, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 1995, 2nd edition, 2006.

Steinhof, Arcadia Books (London, England), 2002.

Contributor of articles to journals, including Scandinavian Studies. Editor, Northern Studies, 1989-91; review editor, Swedish Book Review.

SIDELIGHTS: British scholar Irene Scobbie is a specialist in Swedish literature and culture. In Sweden, she traces the history of modern Sweden in what a Times Literary Supplement critic called a “rather more than impressionistic survey of Sweden’s earlier history.” A Choice reviewer found the chapter on the early history of Sweden to be “excellent,” and the work as a whole to be a “well-written analysis of modern Sweden.” The writer for Times Literary Supplement noted that certain sections on politics were outdated upon publication, but felt that overall, the work is “sober, factual, well-written with a sense of humor… [and is] a most useful addition to the considerable number of books” on the subject published in the early 1970s.

Scobbie is both the editor of and a contributor to Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature, a much-revised version of a 1988 survey of Swedish literature. Scobbie wrote two of the ten chapters. In her chapter on Swedish writers of the 1880s, she provides the intellectual and literary background necessary for understanding the Swed-iish writers’ works. She analyzed the works of Lagerkvist in a later chapter, which D.H. Roger Jones, writing in Modern Language Review, called “an excellent introduction to his work, although she occasionally appears to accept him too willingly on his own terms.”

With several colleagues, Scobbie introduced readers to the Swedish novel after 1950 in Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature. “Scobbie has a gift for distilling the import of thinkers, like Renan, Rydberg, Comte, Taine and others into a few crystal-clear lines. Scobbie’s account of the intellectual background to the 1880s is splendid,” commented Susan Brantly in Scandinavian Studies. “The work of Scobbie and company deserves wide distribution,” commented George C. Schoolfield in World Literature Today, adding that the authors “are correct in their facts, translucent in their presentations, and, in fact, as entertaining as they can be under the chronicling circumstances.” And Brantly concluded, “On the whole, Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature is an admirable effort.” “This collection will help dispose of the idea that Swedish literature consists of scattered famous names,” predicted Paul Binding in the Times Literary Supplement.



American Reference Books Annual, 1996, Jane Jurgens, review of Historical Dictionary of Sweden, p. 64.

Booklist, May 15, 1973, review of Sweden, p. 887.

Choice, July-August, 1973, review of Sweden, p. 840.

Modern Language Review, October, 1991, D.H. Roger Jones, review of Aspects of Modern SwedishLiterature, pp. 1055-1056.

Scandinavian Studies, winter, 1991, Susan Brantly, review of Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature, pp. 132-134.

Times Literary Supplement, February 9, 1973, review of Sweden, p. 154; August 20, 1999, Paul Binding, “From the Fir-Forest Culture,” p. 22.

World Literature Today, spring, 1989, George C.Schoolfield, review of Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature, pp. 320-321.