Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Wronged Women and Wretched Sinners - the Case of the Maid in Växjö

I have spoken about my love for old murder ballads before. A Swedish compilation of such old folk songs was made between 1896 and 1901 by a man called August Bondeson. If you speak Swedish, you can read the volume online here

If you don't... Well, I thought I'd post a few translations here. Nothing fancy; no rhymes or anything, just the basic meaning so you can compare them to their English and American counterparts.

I thought I'd start with a particularly gruesome one called Där tjänte en flicka (There served a girl). It was recorded a few years ago by Swedish artist Louise Hoffsten. Her version is quite good, but it doesn't contain all the verses – only 1-3, 5 and 9-10. It's a pity in my opinion since that leaves out some of the more horrid ones. Anyway, if you have Spotify, you can listen to it here.

I put the Swedish lyrics first and then the English translation right after each verse.And, like I said, it's not a fancy translation, but, I dare say, pretty accurate as far as content goes (but without any poetic flair like rhymes and rhythm).

And – gruesome and purple as this song is, contains at least a pinch of realism. Women being executed for infanticide is historical fact, not fancy. 

1. Där tjänte en flicka i Växjö i två år,
hon tjänte hos en köpman, en ungkarl det var,
det var väl ett stort under, att hon torde
en sådan gärning göra, som hon gjorde.

1.  There served a girl in Växjö for two years,
she was maid to a merchant, a bachelor too,
but it was a mystery how she dared
to do the deed she did

 2. Det hände sig så om en lördagskväll,
hon födde två foster, dem mördade hon själv;
hon trodde, där var ingen, som såg det,
och därför tog hon livet utav dem.

3. It happened on one Saturday night
that she bore two children, she murdered them herself
she thought there was no one who saw it
and so she took their sweet lives.

3. Så svepte hon dem uti renaste lin,
så kastade hon dem i den skarpaste ström;
hon trodde, där var ingen som såg det,
och därför tog hon livet utav dem.

3. She wrapped them in linen
and cast them into a stream
she thought there was no one who saw it
and so she took their sweet lives.

4. Sen gångar hon sig på kyrkogården in,
och tårarne runno så stritt på hennes kind.
 Ja, det var väl ett stort under, att hon torde
en sådan gärning göra, som hon gjorde,

4. Into the graveyard she went
and tears ran down her cheeks.
Yes, it was a mystery how she dared
to do the deed she did

5. "Men ett det är, som grämjer mitt hjärta allra mest,
att min allra yngste broder har mig i bojor fäst;
han fängslar och binder mig så svåra.
Gud nåde mig, syndare arma!

5. "But what grieves my heart the most,
is that my youngest brother has clasped me in irons,
he traps me and binds me so badly.
God have mercy on me, wretched sinner!"

6. Min moder lät stöpa en silverkanna ny,
med fyra förgyllande fötter däruti,
den fyllde hon med blanka riksdalrar,
hon ville själv med konungen samtala

6. My mother had made a silver jar
with four golden feet inside;
filling it with shiny shillings,
with the king she wanted plead

7. för att lösa mitt unga liv, om hon det kunde få.
Men mitt ungaste liv, det passar jag ej på:
när jag för mina synder haver lidit,
så hoppas jag, de äro mig tillgivna.

7. for my young life, if she could
but for my life I have no care;
once I have paid for my sins
I hope they are forgiven

8. I morgon så fyller jag mitt adertonde år,
då hade jag tänkt, att mitt bröllop skulle stå;
men då skall röda hjärteblodet rinna,
likt vatten uti stridaste strömmar."

8. Tomorrow I will turn eighteen,
when I had thought to be a bride
but instead the red blood of my heart 
shall stream in torrents like water.

9. Den andra dagen ’fördes hon till spetsgården fram. 
Och fram kommer bödeln med yxan i sin hand: 
"Si, här skall detta unga liv iörrinna, 
liksom det vore blodröda strömmar!" 

9. She was brought to the scaffold on the second day
and with an axe the executioner stands:
"See, this young life shall run
in blood red torrents like water!"

10. Så talte hon till folket, som däromkring stod: 
"Ack, hör I, unga flickor, jag råder eder till, 
låten inga falska gossar er behaga, 
ty då fån I sorg i alla edra dagar!" 

10. She spoke to the people who stood all around:
"Oh, hear me, girls, I shall offer you advice,
trust not young men, fair and false, 
lest you shall grieve for all your days!"

*Picture from The Graphics Fairy . It has nothing to do with the song besides looking rather dramatic.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Anyone for Swedish murder and fin-de-siècle gloom?

Hjalmar Söderberg (source: Wikipedia)
If you are looking for some good old fin-de-siècle gloom and you happen to be in the vicinity of London, England, you really should take the opportunity to see Dr Glas, starring Swedish actor Krister Henriksson (of Wallander-renown).

Dr Glas is based on a novel, first published in 1905, by Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg,  considered to be one of the finest novelists this nation ever produced. It is, admittedly, not a cheerful story. On the other hand, it has murder, adultery, depression and lots and lots of good old misery. Nobody get a HEA, because that was not what Söderberg was about. He was, after all, the man who wrote the legendary phrase: "I believe in the lust of the flesh and the incurable loneliness of the soul" (from the play Gertrud), quoted by generations of Swedish teenagers suffering their first disappointment in love.

If you can't make it to the Wyndham's Theatre, I heartily recommend digging out Doctor Glas as a novel or Söderberg's other novel The Serious Game as they are both excellent and translated to English.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Life around 1900

Just had to share this lovely enhanced video with footage from around 1900 – it really brings the past frighteningly close when you can meet the eyes of strangers from a gap of more than 100 years.

Just lovely!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Fashion Plates Galore!

I just realised I've been a bit bad at sharing some of the truly awesome resources out there and thought I'd remedy that, by letting you in on a pretty little secret - Collection Maciet.

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1886
It is hosted by Les Arts Décoratifs, which is a private not-for-profit association and recognized as being in the public interest under French law. It originated in 1882, in the wake of the Universal Exhibitions, when a group of collectors banded together with the idea of promoting the applied arts and developing links between industry and culture, design and production. Thus, it is a thoroughly Victorian product which in itself is rather nice, n'est-ce pas?

That's all very well, you're saying now, but what is it good for? Why, old chap, says I. Fashion, of course! Lots and lots of fashion!

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1842 à 1843, image 10

You see, the Collection Maciet contains a great number of fashion plates, going back to the 18th century and up to 1940. Well, they have later stuff too, but it's not available online, and, anyway, that's not what we're her for, is it? No, we want the 19th century stuff, right? No worries. There's plenty of that to be had.

The trick, however, is that the search function is in French. If you speak the lovely language of Molière and Racine, that's fine of course, but if you don't it's not entirely simple how to find what you are looking for. Because of that, I thought I'd provide a short guide.

Go here, and pick Consulation du Catalogue (or click that link obviously, but I wanted you to be able to hack it for yourselves without having to start here, appreciated that your visit is). Then pick "Recherche simple". If it isn't obvious, it means "simple search". You then get this menu:

Do what I have done here - fill in "mode" under Termes de recherche and select "Album Maciet". Then click Rechercher and you'll get a list of fashion related material, in chronological order. Scroll down to the years you are interested in. Say you want the fashions for 1868, for example. Just scroll down until you find the listing Mode : [XIXe siècle] : 1868 .- ... .- [éditeurs divers] .- 1868 .- Collection Maciet. Click the number next to the listing and you get this window:

Click "Voir les vignettes Maciet" and you get all the images as thumbnails. Select the ones that look interesting and enjoy - you can zoom rather far and also adjust contrasts and lighting, so you won't miss a single detail.

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1868, image 2

Hope it proves useful to you. If nothing else, there's plenty of eye candy for the Victorian-ly inclined!

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Daily Victorian, 1854

DECLARATION OF WAR. (1854, June 26).  
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. 
Retrieved March 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12960424

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Various updates

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I'm trying to organise myself a bit and so I've made some adjustments to the design of this blog. I also added some new elements, like a selection of news from my twitter feed of historical tweeters and links to my research shelf on Goodreads (at the bottom of the page). As you can see above, I also added this blog to Bloglovin for those who want to use that to follow it.

I would also really like to hear from you. Tell me what was helpful and what wasn't and what you would like to see more of, please. You can reach me at contactvictorianexplorer@gmail.com.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...