A Note on the English Text

When the print edition of Nordisk Kvindelitteraturhistorie / Nordisk kvinnolitteraturhistoria was published in Denmark and Sweden in the 1990s, it was celebrated as a necessary and splendid publication in terms of both form and content. As one reviewer wrote, “Nordisk kvindelitteraturhistorie has given us a completely new approach to literature. Not a strict, paternal one, but a passionate one,” (CekvinaNyt 3, 1993).

This web site for the first time makes the text of the print work available to an English-speaking public. It is our hope that the site will help spread the knowledge and appreciation of Nordic women's rich and varied literature to interested readers across the world. Rendering the extensive material in English has been a long and exciting journey. A team of seven translators, two proofreaders, one editorial assistant, and one editor has laboured to render the site contents into English. This article aims to share with you some of the decisions and principles that have shaped the English text published on nordicwomensliterature.net.

Style, Usage, and the Language of the English Translation

More than one hundred writers, each with their own academic and stylistic concerns and approaches, worked to produce the original articles and bibliographies contained in the History of Nordic Women's Literature. In working on the English edition, we have tried to strike a balance between respect for variations in style and academic approach, and the desire to provide our English-language users with a text that is consistent and attractive to read.

In practice, what this means is that we have harmonised the use of key terminology across the site, but have tried to carry the specific style of the individual writers over into the English translations. In terms of spelling, style, and usage, our points of reference have been the Oxford English Dictionary and the Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide. These have been our foundation, from which we have veered only on those few occasions when considerations of clarity or perspicuity seemed to demand it.

Quotations, Titles, Translated Works

Titles of Works

References to literary works abound in the articles. Titles of complete works mentioned are italicised, while titles of parts of works, for instance individual short stories or poems, are enclosed in “quotation marks”. We have decided to keep work titles in the original languages, adding literal translations as well as publication year in parentheses upon first mention, like so: Hjartastaður (1995; Place of the Heart). Where an English translation of a given work existed at the time of editing (end of 2011), this is signalled in the parentheses by Eng. tr. + the translated title in italics: Sommerfugledalen (1991; Eng. tr. Butterfly Valley). On a few rare occasions, we have found that the titles as translated vary significantly from the meaning of the original titles. Here, we have provided a literal translation – similar to those provided with untranslated works – to supplement the translated title: Män kan inte våldtas (1975; Men Cannot Be Raped; Eng. tr. Manrape).


The articles included in the History of Nordic Women's Literature quote liberally from the literary works they examine. As in other instances of literary scholarship, these quotations are important to following the flow of arguments in the articles: points and conclusions are exemplified in quotations, and cited passages are subjected to close readings.

Where a previously published and generally available translation of a cited work existed at the time of editing and we were at all able to gain access to a copy, we have reproduced quoted passages from here. Where such a translation did not exist, or on the rare occasions where an existing translation slants the text in a direction that makes following the article's arguments difficult or impossible, we have done our own translations, staying as close to the original text as possible without sacrificing readability.

Poetry has, as it always does to the translator, presented a particular challenge. Our translations of poetry aim to provide the reader with the support necessary to following the arguments and analysis forwarded in the articles. These are in the vast majority of cases concerned with the meaning of the quoted lines, rather than their style, and we have therefore aimed to provide translations that maintain the sense of the individual lines of verse, and, where possible, the order and sequence words and images. Rhythm, rhyme, etc. were only considered once the meaning had been wrangled into place. This approach, we feel, best allow the quoted poems and passages to underpin and support the thrust of the articles.

Bibliographic Information

Bibliographical information on English translations is included in the form of the “more in the XXXX library catalogue” links in the right side-bar of our writer biographies. These are links to dynamic searches in the relevant national bibliographies, and should provide up-to-date information on translated works by the writer (and English-language works about the writer and her oeuvre). Because we did not want to send readers on a wild goose chase, we have not provided such links where a writer had not been translated by the time of editing. Here, we instead rely on users of the site to supplement our own research. You are therefore more than welcome to contact us by e-mail on mail@nordicwomensliterature.net if you know of a translation that we have missed.

Departures from the Print Work

We have silently corrected any simple errors and inaccuracies we have come across during our work on the translations — this includes incorrect publication years for works mentioned or writer birth and death dates; typos; incorrect, ‘short form’, and colloquial titles for works mentioned; etc. And because much of the information on the site concerns a specifically Nordic historical, cultural, and social reality that may not be familiar to readers from other parts of the world, we have tried in the English text to provide readers with such additional information as we deemed necessary to following the arguments laid forth in the articles, without cluttering up the text with notes and explanations.

Other than that, the text of the translation holds true to that of the original print work. And gives readers a chance to get acquainted with this pioneering, ambitious, and highly rated work of Nordic literary scholarship, in English.

Martin Lamberth
English Editor