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News

“Your Faithful Moa”

02.11.2015

On November, 2, 2015, it is the 125th anniversary of the well-known Swedish writer Helga Maria Moa Martinson (2.11.1890, Östergötland, – 5.8.1964, Sorunda). She is the author of the novels about women living in poverty, remaining humane and courageous: “Woman and Apple-Tree”, “Sally’s Sons”, autobiographical tetralogy “Mother Marries”, “Wedding”, “King’s Roses”, “I Meet a Poet”, a series of historical novels about the life of Swedish peasants: “The Path under the Stars”, “Fiery Lilies”, “Celebration of Life”; she is the author of collected essays and short stories: “Behind the Swedish Wall”, “Love in Between Wars”. In the years of the Second World War, Moa Martinson held an antifascist stance.

The Swedish writer was familiar with M.A.Sholokhov. They met in 1934, at the congress of writers in Moscow. Mikhail Alexandrovich gave his assessment of her work. Speaking over the Swedish radio “he reminded the listeners about the contribution of the Swedish writers August Strindberg and Selma Lagerlöf” into the world literature and underlined that the tradition to serve Swedish and world literature by their work is continued nowadays by the outstanding representatives of modern Swedish literature such as Ivar Lu-Johansson, Harry Martinson, Wilhelm Muberg, Moa Martinson and Arthur Lundquist”.

In 1957, a letter addressed to M.A.Sholokhov came to the Russian Embassy in Sweden from the authoress:

“To Mikhail Sholokhov. Precious colleague. Dear and beloved friend. I had a pleasure of meeting you in 1934 at the congress of writers (in Moscow). You were then a handsome man dressed in a military uniform, and I danced a waltz with You. You danced not very well, but so charmingly, that the errors were invisible.

I would like to see You in Stockholm, but I have firmly stuck fast afar being quite alone. I am making my last efforts over my book, and my son (the only help) has been drafted into the army. He has a horse, I have a horse, too, but I can’t leave this place. Nobody helps me; the people aspire to town from our nice diocese.

On my visit to Moscow, you and I went to see Gorky. When speaking I for some minutes was the centre of attention. I studied Russian. Gorky kissed me on both cheeks, I still feel the touch of his moustache. I was stunned when I saw that tall elegant man. I couldn’t identify him by the photos and pictures seen before. He was a thousand times more handsome.

I will never forget my visiting Moscow. I have written about it a big chapter in one of my books. On coming home I gave an interview to the Swedish press, which had kept silence about me for long. But nothing can be done, such things happen.

(It’s good that I’m typing, for my handwriting is impossible to read). Our country is beautiful, though you have not had time to see much staying in Stockholm. Russia is so great, so diverse and fantastic, that it is impossible to compare in any way. But each country has its own charm. Love for the country is not a merit, it is biologically conditioned. If I were born and brought up in the Gobi desert I would love that place. In some years I am going to visit Russia. I begin getting old and tired; some years ago I divorced Harry Martinson, my husband (a well-known Swedish writer, Nobel Prize winner, – the author’s note); we were to have chosen different paths because of the different views.

A war is known to be damnation, now threatening with a nuclear bomb, which is terrible for the mankind. I don’t believe that the atomic bomb may be used. I believe in reason and common sense.

I read “And Quiet Flows the Don” long ago; I read it twice, and best of all I remember Your fishing carps in the Don. You have written this chapter well.

Russia suffered a terrible deprivation, more than it can be understood in other countries. But Russia defended itself.

We are a small country, and that is why we are sensitive, particular and very much afraid for our country, though we are not always unanimous about what is good for our country. Peace-loving forces must win all over the world for the people to be able to go about their business. In this, we mean nothing but the threat of war. My letter is chatty; I am tired of toiling over my book and I am not sure of its completion. You know what it means. However death is approaching. But we shouldn’t dwell on details. Man is the main thing in the universe.

Take my best wishes and come over again. I feel you will come soon again.

Your faithful Moa.”

 

Some time later, through the Embassy, Mikhail Alexandrovich answered this warm friendly letter:

“Dear Moa Martinson! I have received Your warm letter and was pleased with your remembering our short meetings and thus about me. Excuse me, please, for my delay with the answer: travellings to Norway, Denmark and official meetings prevented me from answering Your letter in a good time. Leaving Sweden with some sadness in my heart, that I visited your country 22 years ago and am leaving it again, maybe forever (as you see, old man’s sentiments are usual not only with that, whom I, young and ungainly, danced a waltz with once long ago), I want to assure you, that I am in the swim of your work, deeply appreciate your original talent, though I don’t very much believe in a writing talent of women in general. In this case, you are a nice exception for me, and I wish you good health, writing success and the most unrealizable thing: to preserve freshness of perception and fascinating womanhood for long years.

P.S. I am deeply sorry for my failure to see you and your former husband, Harry Martinson. Hug your son drafted into the army, for me, and give him my paternal regards and cordial wishing of happiness. Sincerely yours. M.Sholokhov. 2.7.57.”

 

Yekaterina Karbysheva