Paul Binding: A welcome piece of Scandinavian favouritism

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The Independent Online

Sweden is rejoicing. Tomas Tranströmer is not only the country's best-known poet but also its best loved. In the UK he is not (as yet) as widely read as he should be.

From the first, he used intimately familiar features of the Scandinavian scene – sea, forest, long winters, transforming summers – to assist his exploration of existential universals: time, change, the human need for constancy.

The Swedish Academy has been far too diffident these past three decades in its attitude to Scandinavian writers. "Will the British," a Swedish journalist asked me yesterday, "think us guilty of favouritism?" Of course we won't! We too are delighted that a poet of major stature, a Modernist who has reached out to a good-sized readership without ever compromising his style, should have got the award he should, in truth, have received many years ago.

Paul Binding is a novelist, poet and critic