Karolina Ramqvist’s novel Karhunainen tells the fate of a woman who lived in the 16th century, but just as much about a writer who in modern times tries to figure out what happened to a woman.
For years then the author Karolina Ramqvist heard a story that did not leave him alone.
The story was about a woman who was abandoned on a deserted North Atlantic island in the mid-16th century. The woman lived in a cave, learned to hunt bears, gave birth to a child, and – incomprehensibly yes – survived in almost arctic conditions. The woman was known by name, but little else. He was Marguerite de la Rocque and native to the south of France.
The survival story became an obsession for Ramqvist, or really some kind of daydream. Ramqvist had just had her third child and when she scrambled her sibling carriages pushing in snow-capped Stockholm, she thought of a woman. When he felt exhausted in the daily life of an infant, he likened his life to the trials of a young woman who lived hundreds of years ago. If someone has survived in such circumstances, yes he would survive this too.
So as it turned out.
Ramqvistin a novel about a woman left on a desert island Bear (Gummerus, Finnish: Laura Kulmala) has just appeared in Finnish, and the author’s home in Södermalm has a quiet morning, because due to the chronavirus, children who attend distance school on weekdays are at school today. Ramqvist says he wakes up every morning to write at five when the rest of the family is sleeping and continues to work after they have left home.
“I used to go to my office near our home in the morning, but today I write at home because my daughter asked me to be here when she wakes up. I feel privileged and happy to have a daughter who dared to tell it to me. I would never have figured it out myself, ”he says on the phone.
“Of course it’s sometimes frustrating when they wake up and I like to write, but when I look at them, I realize how fast time goes by. That little kid who Bearish when I started sitting in a stroller, is now 9 years old. ”
To the island a novel about a submitted woman Bear was a multi-year contract for Ramqvist. He says he thought about the subject first for seven years and then wrote three.
As a writer, he had to build his story on minor cracks of information.
Only Marguerite de la Rocque knew this: She was a nobleman and when her father died when she was under 25, she was cared for by her cousin. Jean-François de la Rocque de Robervalin. Marguerite de la Rocque knew how to write and read, which was rare in the 16th century.
“It is also known that in 1542 he and his guardian embarked on a ship heading for Canada, and that he was abandoned from a ship on a desert island together with a female servant and lover. On the island, she gave birth to a child, ”Ramqvist says.
Ramqvist did not want to invent anything, but to build the emptiness of his novel, around nothing, for he thought it well described how invisible women are in history and historiography.
Thus, Ramqvist had to admit that it can never be ascertained what events led to the abandonment of the young woman on the island during the expedition of the explorers. What had tarnished his reputation so badly that his guardians punished him with an almost certain death?
“There are countless options. At times, I wanted to believe it was a love story and drama where a rebellious woman encounters love and finds her own sexuality on board. But it may as well be that the man raped her and she hated the idea of the man coming to the island with her, ”Ramqvist says.
In addition to the historical story, she wanted to bring into the story her own life and the circumstances of her own time: to describe writing, the combination of writing and motherhood, and growing up as a mother.
Ramqvist says that his writing has changed a lot since the birth of the children.
“Before, I just wanted to hide from the world and write. Today, that is not possible, because if I want to live in this world with my children, I have to let other people into my life as well. My book is also a very personal proof of what happens to a person like me when they start a family. ”
His writing work for Ramqvist traveled to a small village near Paris with the remains of a tower built by Roberval, the guardian of the Marquerite de la Rocque. It is possible that Marquerite de la Rocque also lived in the village for some time.
If Ramqvist’s life situation had been different, he would also have traveled to the island where Marguerite de la Rocque was abandoned and where he lived for at least a year, perhaps closer to two years. In Canada, the island off the coast of Quebec is now known as Harrington Island, but a cave inhabited by a bear no longer exists.
On the other hand, he soon realized that in today’s world, a researcher doesn’t really have to knock through libraries and archives after old sources, as all material is available in digital form.
“It also affected the structure of my book. As I stood on the street waiting for my friend and looked at my phone for a picture of a Renaissance book or painting, the eras forcibly intertwined. I carried the past time with me everywhere, ”he describes.
During her work, Ramqvist realized how easily a feminist like her could swallow the distorted and stubborn notions of gender in historiography. She knew that Marguerite de la Rocque was mentioned in the work of at least three different authors, but only as the last did she seize the Renaissance queen Margaret of Navarre to the collection of short stories Heptamerón.
“I had heard that he was an amateur, royal, who scratched the passage of time, but his short stories were wonderful and absolutely excellent. She wrote a lot about issues that are still relevant, such as the liberation of women, men’s violence against women, and social classes. ”
“It was clear he wasn’t appreciated because of his gender. It was again an indication of how easily women are left in the dark. ”
Carolina Ramqvist is a well-known author and feminist in his native Sweden, whose works have hardly been translated into Finnish before. However, some may recall a work published in the early 2000s Pilluparvi (Like), which included speeches by young Swedish women about growing up as a woman and feminism.
Ramqvist contributed to the work with a writing in which she recounted what it was like to grow into a woman as a daughter of a feminist mother.
“I have not experienced a feminist revival, as my mother’s generation had radical perceptions of equality and gender relations. Maybe I wanted to challenge those thoughts myself, ”he says.
Bearish previously in his only Finnish novel Girlfriend (2011, Helsinki books) Indeed, Ramqvist told of a gangster girlfriend who lives the perfect doll life of a luxury lady, which is difficult for her mother to accept. The author says many readers hated his protagonist and would have liked to tear this out of his house.
“My generation already has all the privileges that the previous generation has acquired for us. Sweden is the number one country in the world for equality, and that means that everyone has the freedom to do what they want with their freedom. That’s the freedom I wanted to explore in my novel at the time, ”he says.
In progress The bear writing in the fall of 2017, the Ramqvist family found themselves in the midst of a huge meto-fuss.
Media face and actor Cissi Wallin accused Ramqvist’s spouse Fredrik Virtasta years of rape. Stream was never found guilty, Wallin was later convicted of defamation, but the chase left a mark on Ramqvist.
“It was ironic that at the same time as I explored the power men had in women in my novel, my own life went upside down in the name of meto and feminism. But at least I realized how privileged I had been because never before had I been treated so much as a stranger in my community and I had never been subjected to a similar whipping, ”he says.
According to Ramqvist, the Swedish media went too far in the early days “without a doubt”, but he also believes he learned from his experience.
“That feeling of powerlessness changed a lot in the way I look at things now, after all, adversity makes the world more interesting and depressing at the same time. This is a cliché, but life is easier after the crisis. I now see more clearly in our society mechanisms that I had not seen before, ”he says.
Ramqvist has not told any more about the uproar in public, but says he communicates with his readers through his works. If they want, everyone can read and find About the bear references to the storm that befell his family.
And it has not been said that Ramqvist would not use everything that happened as material in his upcoming novel. He says it’s almost too appealing to the author.
“Now, when I got into the car’s taste for fiction, I probably never be able to let go of it. My upcoming novel is not a sequel For the bear, but I continue in the same style and use myself as a writer. ”
Karolina Ramqvist’s novel Karhunainen (Gummerus, Finnish: Laura Kulmala) has just been published.
■ The Swedish author was born in 1976.
■ Author of novels, short stories and essays, of which the novel The Girlfriend was previously translated into Finnish (Helsinki Books, 2011).
■ Awarded the Per Olov Enquist prize in his home country.
■ Lives in Stockholm with her husband Fredrik Virtanen. The family includes three children.