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||Dan Andersson (1888-1920) - byname of Daniel Andersson|
Swedish musician and writer of working class background, who became
one of the most popular Swedish poets. Dan Andersson gained fame
posthumously. During his literary career, defined by poverty, he was
treated hostile by many critics, who lacked an understanding of his
work. Considering all the difficulties, Andersson was a reasonably
God natt - god sömn jag önskar er,
Dan Andersson was born in Skattlösberg, Grangärde. His father, Adolf Andersson, was a deeply religious, self-taught teacher in a small school, who earned additional income for the family by binding books. Augusta, Dan's mother, helped her husband in teaching. Their home was poor, and the family had to find extra income from odd jobs. His elder brother, Anders, used to read the Bible the whole day; sometimes at night he shouted like one possessed. Nobody slept then.
In his youth Andersson led a wandering life. He worked as woodsman, temperance lecturer, factory worker, and travelling salesman. At the age of 14, Andersson was sent for some time to the United States to explore possibilities for immigration. He worked there at his aunt and uncle's farm, but after eight months of toiling, he returned to Skattlösberg with nothing but blistered heels and no money. In 1905 Adolf Andersson rented a crofter's cottage called Mårtenstorp and tried his luck as a charcoal burner. The family had a horse, a couple of cows, a calf, chickens, and a borrowed cat. After three years, he gave up Mårtenstårp and moved with his family to Skattlösberg, where he earned his living as a shoemaker.
Between the years 1905 and 1908, Andersson toiled hard as a charcoal burner, and later depicted his experiences in several poems. He also sold knives in Eskilstuna, worked at a paper factory, and acted as a replacement teacher. In 1910 Andersson served in the army but was discharged because of tuberculosis. He then spent a vagrant life, working occasionally as an itinerant lecturer for a society of popular education. His early published poems Andersson wrote in his spare time at home or in empty crofters’ cottages. He read such thinkers as Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Among his friends was Martin Koch, who later published large working-class novels.
From 1913 Andersson devoted himself entirely to writing. This was a disappointment to his father, who had hoped that his son would pursue a clerical career. Andersson's first book Kolarhistorier (1914) was followed by Kolvaktarens visor (1915). After completing a course in 1914-15 at Brunnsvik, a folk high school, Andersson published a collection of short stories, Det kallas vidskepelse (1916). During the year in Brunnsvik Andersson read widely, devouring Oscar Wilde's De profundis, Rabindranath Tagore's works, Bhagavadgita, and Rabelais. Reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov felt like a revelation to him. Based on these influences and religious feelings of sin and guilt, Anderson developed a personal Nietzschean philosophy, which gradually developed from biological materialism into a more religious world view. He also found his first influential supporters, Niklas Bergius, a teacher at Brunnsvik, and Richard Sandler, who later became a foreign minister.
While in Brunssvik, Andersson lived in great poverty, trying to earn a living by writing. In 1915 his father moved with his family from Skattlösberg to Gräsberg, where he built a house. In its cold attic room Andersson composed several of his stories, including the collection Det kallas vidskepelse, and Svarta ballader (1917), a collection of poems. De tre hemlösa (1918) was an autobiographical work, which continued in David Ramms arv (1919). They received mostly good reviews, but as a writer Andersson remained unknown to the wider public.
De tre hemlösa and David Ramms arv was Andersson's return to his childhood and youth. It outlined his world view in which suffering, hatred, and crime are only grotesque reflections of the higher spirit. David Ramm,the protagonist, is the son of a poor tailor. He grows up with his brothers in a remote village plagued by religious fanaticism. David goes to sea, experiences his degradation in London, and is saved by a self-sacrificing prostitute.
In 1917 Andersson was hired to work as a journalist for the Ny Tid newspaper, which appeared in Göteborg. After resigning in 1918 he returned to Gräsberg. In 1918 he married Olga (Turesson) Andersson, the sister of the future composer and singer Gunnar Turesson. They settled in the small village of Gonäs, where Olga worked as teacher. However, Andersson's restless travelling continued - he visited his friends in Stockholm, Sigtuna, Brunnsvik, Gräsberg, Skattlösberg and other places. His lifestyle began to take its toll, or as he wrote in 'Visa' (Svarta ballader): "... min kärlek är gammal och börjar bli grå, / och hittar ej vildhonung mera i natten. - My love goes grey, nor findeth again / Sweet nectar in meads where the moonbeams quiver. (A Selection from Modern Swedish Poetry: Translated in the Original Metres, by C.D. Locock, 1929) Andersson's financial situation did not improve although he received grants and contributed to several magazines.
During a visit in Stockholm, Andersson died of cyanide poison in a hotel, on September 16, 1920. The cyanide was used to kill fleas and other bed bugs, but the bedding was aired badly. Andersson was buried at Lyviken Cemetery in Ludvika.In one of his most-loved poems, 'En spelmans jordafärd' in Svarta ballader, Andersson told about the funeral of a folk musician, whose last journey is accompanied by four men and sounds of wind, storm and waves: "Det är bara Olle spelman, susar tall och sjunger gran, / han har lyktat sina hemlösa år."
Andersson translated also into Swedish Kipling's book The Seven Seas (1918) and Baudelaire's poems. The novel Efterskörd was published posthumously in 1929, like unfinished portraits of his friends, Tryckt och otryckt (1942). "His view of life," said a Swedish critic on Andersson, "is a grim fatalism, and his whole work is a fragmentary theodicy, occasionally lighted by flashes from his innermost soul . . . " ('Andersson, Dan' by A.G. [Alrik Gustafson], in Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature, edited by Jean-Albert Bédé and William B. Edgerton, 1981, p. 21) Hans Granlid has argued in Spänningarnas förlösning: om Dan Anderssons verk och verklighet - med särskild hänsyn till hans sena prosa (2004) that Andersson was the incarnation of an old soul, most likely with North Indian experience.
For further reading: En bok om Dan Andersson by Waldemar Bernhard (1941); Dan Andersson före svarta ballader by Eric Uhlin (1950); Orestes och försoningen by Gustaf Fredén (1955); Dan Andersson by Anne-Marie Odstedt (1965); Dan Anderssons väg by Gösta Ågren (1955); Kärlek som i allting bor Gösta Ågren (1971); En bilderbok om Dan Andersson by E.R. Gummerus (1975); Trollkarlen vid Pajso: i Dan Anderssons värld by E. R. Gummerus (1980); 40 svenska författare by Sven Stople (1980); Den allra högstra sången by Jan Arvid Hellström (1981); Dan Anderssons härstamning by Erik Hellerström (1964, 2nd editition 1981); Att läsa för glädje och skriva sig hel by Bertil Lauritzen (1983); Diktaren och arvet by Hans Åkerberg (1985); Finnmarkens spelman by Gunde Johansson (1988); Dan Andersson och Gustav Hurtig by Jörgen Dicander och Isidor Sundberg (1988); "Min förtröstan all": en kompletterande studie om diktaren Dan Andersson by Jörgen Dicander (1998); Dan Anderssons visor och låtar by Jörgen Dicander (2001); Dan Andersson och Brunnsvik: en studie by Gösta Larsson (2003); Spänningarnas förlösning: om Dan Anderssons verk och verklighet - med särskild hänsyn till hans sena prosa by Hans Granlid (2004); Det gångna är som en dröm och det närvarande förstår jag icke: en bok om Dan Andersson by Göran Greider (2008); Hon vars hjärta var som mitt: Dan och Märta – en kärlekshistoria by Göran Greider (2020) - Huom 1: Andersonin tekstejä on tulkinnut suomeksi myös laulaja Martti Kadenius, joka kasetti Dan Anderssonin lauluja ilmestyi kunnianosoituksena Kalle Päätalon 75-vuotissyntymäpäivänä vuonna 1994. Päätalo, itsekin metsätyömiestaustalta kirjailijaksi ponnistellut, kuunteli niitä useaan otteeseen kirjoittamisen lomassa Tampereen Myllykylässä. Huom. 2: Hector teki Tommy Tabermannin ja Erkki Melakosken kanssa levyn Ruusuportti (1979), joka perustui Dan Anderssonin lauluille.