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JORGE LUIS BORGES, who populated many of his most famous works with fictitious Swedes (with names like Runeberg and Lönnrot), and whose interest in the Scandinavian soul was readily apparent, drew attention to the strange predicament of Nordic culture, rich and advanced yet almost unknown to the rest of the world:

In universal history, the wars and books of Scandinavia are as if they had never existed; everything remains isolated and without a trace, as if it had come to pass in a dream or in the crystal balls where clairvoyants gaze. In the twelfth century, the Icelanders discovered the novel—the art of Flaubert, the Norman—and this discovery is as secret and sterile, for the economy of the world, as their discovery of America.

Things have perhaps changed in the half century since Borges wrote this, and yet I sometimes have the feeling that the best Swedish art and literature remain remote,

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