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Book review: Johan Tralau resolves to the bloody batter's riddle

the old-time archaeologists only had to show up a krukskärva to convince the world that Troy and other legendary cities had existed. For the political scientist Johan Tralau, it is sufficient with a metaphor, for example, the following enigmatic parable, taken from the Euripides drama ”Alcestis”:

I don't recall if Alf Sjöberg had suppressed this passage in his production of the play at the royal Dramatic theatre's main stage in 1968. No one had probably reacted to the image of the bloody batter. But for Tralau open a world of secrets that he finds out in a book with the not as the enigmatic title ”the Sea's mighty backs”, a metaphor that is much easier to understand for everyone who swam in the sea, and borne on its waves.

about metaphors is that they teach us something of the reality by comparing the two phenomena similar to each other. The good metaphor surprises us, as in the modern Swedish poetry, the most famous example: ”Awakening is a parachute jumps from the dream”. It is impossible to read inledningsraden in Tomas tranströmer's debutsamling ”17 poems” without feeling the awakening in the body. Metaphors often carry on kroppsminnen, sometimes so obvious that we forget that they are metaphors. An example: the legs of a chair.

the Swedish political scientist is seldom classically trained humanists. Tralau is probably the closest we will a his in this area

book review: Johan Tralaus ”the Monster in me. Myths about borders and the beast”

in Greek, to solve the bloody batter's riddle. Swedish political scientists tend to rarely be classically trained humanists. Tralau is probably the closest we will a his in this area, at once a linguist, an anthropologist and historian. In five chapters, he analyzes as many examples of what he calls the ”annoying metaphors”, i.e. metaphors that combine concepts that seem incompatible. The image of the bloody batter is different from ”the sea's mighty backs” by being confusing, on the verge of grotesque.

Why? It could just as well be about an ancient equivalent of our black pudding. But do you know that ”pelanos” – the word for the dough on the Greek – refers to the pastry that was used as an offering in ancient Athens, is the confusion of flour and blood as a crime against the Greek offerritualens requirements on the unbloody sacrifice. In both Aischylos and Euripides appear disturbing metaphors in connection with the murder and violence. To the trilogy ”Orestien” occupies a special position in the history of western drama because it portrays the transition to a model of society based on the rule of law, a shining example of crisis management. End of disturbing deviations from the correct the sacrificial system.

me at the reading of Johan Tralaus fascinating study is that I failed it where nyårslöftet to brush up on my by now ancient skolgrekiska. There is nothing more fun topic than antiquity, possibly with the exception of Shakespeare, himself the author of metaphors that lived on in the titles of countless books, plays, films, and tv series. ”Missnöjets winter”, ”Råttfällan”, ”Storm and rage”, ”Rosencrantz and Guildenstern go to the”, ”Kiss me, Kate”, ”North by northwest”, ”Alerts and make themselves into”, ”the Serpent's egg”...

Speaking of blood, can Johan Tralau note that the goddess Athena commands the hämndgudinnorna in the ”Orestien” to wear red clothes as the ”guardian of the country's sowing, the harvest and the procreation of children”. If Bergmanåret would not be able to wonder what it says about Ingmar Bergman's oidipala obsession with red in their Dramatenuppsättningar and not least in films like ”cries and Whispers”. Horrible thought.

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