Introduction & Overview of Answers to Letters by Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas Tranströmer
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Answers to Letters Summary & Study Guide Description

Answers to Letters Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on Answers to Letters by Tomas Tranströmer.

Most critics would agree that Tomas Tranströmer is Sweden's most important poet since World War II. He has been associated with a variety of literary movements, lived through periods of enormous change in the world of poetry, and published poems with great diversity in form and content. Throughout his life, however, Tranströmer has published elegant and thoughtful poetry that explores the unconscious and challenges the reader's conception of the world, such as "Svar på brev" ("Answers to Letters"), from the collection Det Vilda Torget (The Wild Market-Square). Beginning with the discovery of a letter that was delivered twenty-six years earlier, the poem is a journey through the labyrinth of time, memory, and the past. It uses striking, often dream-like, comparisons and a sophisticated prose style to dramatize a journey of self-discovery.

The "self," or the identity of the poem's speaker and the object of this journey, is an elusive element in "Answers to Letters," partly because it is tied to both unconscious and conscious worlds. Tranströmer, an eminent psychologist in Sweden, is as interested in the workings of the unconscious self as he is in the function and purpose of poetry. The mature and profound meditation on these ideas leaves the reader with a poem that is characteristic of the eminent international poet highly regarded in the United States since the American poet Robert Bly began translating his material in the 1960s. He is now commonly accepted as a master in his native Sweden. "Answers to Letters," which was originally published in Stockholm in 1983, is available in Robin Fulton's English translation, New Collected Poems, published by Bloodaxe Books in 1997.

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This section contains 271 words
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Poetry for Students
Answers to Letters from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.