|Birth Day:||April 4, 1892|
|Death Date:||Jun 24, 1923 (age 31)|
As per our current Database, Edith Sodergran died on Jun 24, 1923 (age 31).
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She decided, during the course of her language studies at a St. Petersburg school, to compose all of her poems in Swedish.
In 1902, Edith began her schooling in Die deutsche Hauptschule zu St. Petri (Russian: Петришуле) where she studied until 1909. These school years were characterized by worries and strong social tensions which likely affected her worldview. Amongst the poems in Vaxdukshäftet that depict Edith's school years, there are poems with political themes. At school there were pupils of many different nationalities, including German, Russian, Finnish and Scandinavian. Her studies focused on modern languages, and she learned German, French, English and Russian; however, she received no instruction in her mother tongue of Swedish, and her knowledge of Swedish grammar and spelling was somewhat faltering. German was the language she spoke most both in school and with her friends.It was in German that she wrote her first poems. She improved her German during her stay in Davos, Switzerland as a patient during 1912-1913 and from 1913 to 1914 for the second time.
In 1904, her father was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and in May 1906 he was admitted to Nummela sanatorium in Nyland. He was later sent home, incurably ill. Mats Södergran died in October 1907, only a year before Edith would herself be diagnosed with the disease.
Edith attended the girls school at Petrischule in St. Petersburg. Petrischule was rich in tradition and created an interesting and highly intellectual surrounding for Edith. The school was situated opposite The Winter Palace, which enabled Edith to experience the troubles in Tsarist Russia at close range. She was almost certainly in the city on Bloody Sunday in January 1905 when the Tsarist guards opened fire on thousands of starving citizens who had gathered to protest the lack of food.
During 1908, Edith appears to have made a decision to make Swedish the main language of her writings and her poems in German suddenly stopped. This was not a self-evident decision. She had no close contact with Swedish literature, and Finland-Swedish poetry was in a depression. An important impulse to the decision might have come from one of her relatives, the Finland-Swedish language researcher Hugo Bergroth. Some years earlier she had published a poem, Hoppet ("The Hope"), in a membership newsletter for the Swedish Liberal Party in Helsingfors and began to come into contact with Finland-Swedish authors. The transition to Swedish seemed also to mark a clear decision to focus on poetry.
One day in November 1908, Edith came home from school saying that she was restless and that she did not feel well. Helena called for a doctor, who diagnosed that Edith had an inflammation of the lungs. According to the mother, the girl understood what it was as she asked several times if she had got "lung soot". Edith had guessed correctly. On New Year's Day 1909, it was established and Edith tested positive for tuberculosis. Barely a month after the result, she was admitted to Nummela sanatorium, the same hospital where her father had been a patient before he passed on, meaning that Edith was never entirely comfortable there. At the time, the chances of recovering entirely from tuberculosis were not especially good. 70–80% of cases died within ten years of diagnosis.
Her time in Switzerland played a large role in Edith's international orientation. From a remote part of Finland she had arrived in an intellectually vital country where, not least at the sanatorium, she met many gifted people from the whole of Europe. With them she felt a connection that she had rarely felt in St. Petersburg. Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain, which admittedly was written after the war but is set in a sanatorium during these years, gives a picture of the intellectually lively atmosphere. Her doctor, von Muralt, appears also to be one of the first doctors who truly won her trust and friendship. When he died in 1917, Edith wrote two poems, Trädet i skogen ("The Tree in the Forest") and Fragment av en stämning ("Fragment of a Mood"), which expresses her sorrow and conflicted memories of her time in Switzerland.
After the October Revolution in 1917, Edith and her mother's economic assets were suddenly rendered worthless since they had been placed in Ukrainian securities; and soon after, from the spring of 1918, the Karelian Isthmus became a war zone. In Petrograd (as St. Petersburg was called from 1914), people were being shot without trial, and Södergran knew that several of her classmates had fled from the city. She read Friedrich Nietzsche and found in him the courage to keep upright against a periodically shifting and degrading life.
With the next collection of poems, Framtidens skugga ("The Shadow of the Future") (whose original title was "Köttets mysterier" ("Mysteries of the Flesh")), the visions that had exhorted Södergran culminate in poems speaking of a renewed world after the wars and catastrophes that now ravage the Earth – Raivola was, as stated earlier, a war zone in 1918, and even later Edith was able to hear gunfire from her kitchen window. The wording can lead one to think both of Walt Whitman and Jim Morrison when the poet takes on the role of fortune teller, general, or quite simply that of Eros' chosen intermediary, as in the poem Eros hemlighet ("Eros' secret").
In the next book, Rosenaltaret ("The Rose Altar"), printed in June 1919, a cycle of poems, Fantastique celebrates the sister, a being who seems to hover between reality and fantasy in some of the poems while some of the details are quite close to subjects that had been discussed in the letters of the two. The poem Systern ("The Sister") is silently dedicated to Olsson, and contains the line "She got lost to me in the throng of the city" which, as biographer Gunnar Tideström has put it, corresponds to Södergran's dismay after the too-short visits by Hagar Olsson and her return to Helsingfors. Olsson has later recalled Södergran's lyrical, funny, warm, and sometimes frightening and imposing personality. Both of them have sometimes been seen as bisexuals, and the question of whether there was a lesbian element in the emotional bond between them remains a disputed one.
Edith died on Midsummer Day 1923 at her home in Raivola, and was buried at the village church. Her mother continued to live in the village until 1939 and died during the evacuation that occurred due to the winter war. Following The Moscow Peace Treaty in 1940, the village became Soviet territory and to this day belongs to Russia (the area has become urbanized since 1950 and most visible traces of the village that existed in Södergran's day are now long gone). The site of Edith's grave is today unknown; however, in 1960 a statue to her was erected in Raivola. Shortly after the war, Raivola was renamed Roschino (Russian: Рощино). Of her former home, only the ground stones remain. They are situated behind the Orthodox church, which after the Fall of the Soviet Union was rebuilt in the same place using photographs of her house as a guide.
Samlade dikter ("Collected Poems") was released in 1949 in Helsinki; it contained everything that had previously come out in book form, plus some of Södergran's unpublished poems, of which a dozen would not be printed again until fifty years later.
Vaxdukshäftet (written 1907–09), from her teenage years in St. Petersburg and Raivola, was released in Finland in 1961 by Olof Enckell (with the title "Ungdomsdikter 1907–1909" (Childhood poems 1907–1909). These had been previously analyzed by several researchers, including Gunnar Tideström and Ernst Brunner, and by Enckell himself. The manuscript, like many of Södergran's original manuscripts, is in an archive in Finland.
Currently, Edith Sodergran is 129 years, 6 months and 13 days old. Edith Sodergran will celebrate 130th birthday on a Monday 4th of April 2022.
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