Aniara (Swedish: Aniara : en revy om människan i tid och rum[1]) is a poem of science fiction written by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson in 1956. It was published on 13 October 1956.[2] The title comes from ancient Greek ἀνιαρός, "sad, despairing", plus special resonances that the sound "a" had for Martinson.[2]

Aniara is an effort to "[mediate] between science and poetry, between the wish to understand and the difficulty to comprehend."[3] Martinson translates scientific imagery into the poem: for example, the "curved space" from Einstein's general theory of relativity is likely an inspiration for Martinson's description of the cosmos as "a bowl of glass." Martinson also said he was influenced by Paul Dirac.[4]

by Harry Martinson
Andromeda Galaxy (with h-alpha)
The Andromeda Galaxy was one of the sources that inspired the poem
Genre(s)science fiction
Publication date13 October 1956

Structure and content

The poem consists of 103 cantos and relates the tragedy of a spacecraft (4,750 m (15,580 ft) long and 891 m (2,923 ft) wide)[5] which, originally bound for Mars with a cargo of colonists from the ravaged Earth, after an accident is ejected from the Solar System and into an existential struggle. The style is symbolic, sweeping and innovative for its time, with creative use of neologisms to suggest the science fictional setting:

We listen daily to the sonic coins
provided every one of us and played
through the Finger-singer worn on the left hand.
We trade coins of diverse denominations:
and all of them play all that they contain
and though a dyma 1 scarcely weighs one grain
it plays out like a cricket on each hand
blanching here in this distraction-land.

The first 29 cantos of Aniara had previously been published in Martinson's collection Cikada (1953), under the title Sången om Doris och Mima (The Song of Doris and Mima),[2] relating the departure from Earth, the accidental near-collision with an asteroid (incidentally named Hondo, another name for the main Japanese isle where Hiroshima is situated) and ejection from the solar system, the first few years of increasing despair and distractions of the passengers, until news is received of the destruction of their home port (and perhaps of Earth). According to Martinson, he dictated the initial cycle as in a fever after a troubling dream, affected by the Cold War and the Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian revolution; in another version, the first 29 cantos were said to be inspired by an astronomic observation of Andromeda Galaxy.[2]

One of the major themes explored is the nature and necessity of art, symbolised by the semi-mystical machinery of the Mima, who relieves the ennui of crew and passengers with scenes of far-off times and places, and whose operator is also the sometimes naïve main narrator. The rooms of Mima, according to Martinson, represent different kinds of life styles or forms of consciousness.[6] The accumulated destruction the Mima witnesses impels her to destroy herself in despair, to which she, the machine, is finally moved by the white tears of the granite melted by the phototurb which annihilates their home port, the great city of Dorisburg. Without the succour of the Mima, the erstwhile colonists seek distraction in sensual orgies, memories of their own and earlier lives, low comedy, religious cults, observations of strange astronomical phenomena, empty entertainments, science, routine tasks, brutal totalitarianism, and in all kinds of human endeavour, but ultimately cannot face the emptiness outside and inside.

In form, the poems are metrical and mostly rhymed, using both traditional and individual forms, several alluding to a wide range of Swedish and Nordic poetry, such as the Finnish Kalevala.


An opera by Karl-Birger Blomdahl also called Aniara premiered in 1959 with a libretto by Erik Lindegren based on Martinson's poem; it was staged in Stockholm, Hamburg, Brussels and Darmstadt, and later in Gothenburg and Malmö.[7]

Swedish musician Kleerup released an album based on Aniara in 2012.

A melding of Aniara and Beethoven's opera Fidelio was staged by the Opéra de Lyon under the direction of American artist Gary Hill in 2013.[8]

The fourth album from the Swedish progressive metal band Seventh Wonder called The Great Escape is based on Aniara.

A Swedish feature film by directors Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja, starring Emelie Jonsson, was released in 2018, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.[9]


Aniara was translated into English as Aniara, A Review of Man in Time and Space by Hugh MacDiarmid and E. Harley Schubert[6] in 1956. It was translated again into English by Stephen Klass and Leif Sjöberg for a 1999 edition. The book is not currently in print.


Theodore Sturgeon, reviewing a 1964 American edition for a genre audience, declared that "Martinson's achievement here is an inexpressible, immeasurable sadness. [It] transcends panic and terror and even despair [and] leaves you in the quiet immensities, with the feeling that you have spent time, and have been permanently tinted, by and with an impersonal larger-than-God force."[10]

Cultural references

The poem was referenced in Vernor Vinge's hard science fiction novel A Fire Upon the Deep. It was also an influence for Poul Anderson's hard science fiction novel Tau Zero.

The song "On aika soittaa sinfonia" ("It's time to play a symphony") on the Finnish rock musician Tuomari Nurmio's critically acclaimed 1982 album Punainen Planeetta ("The Red Planet") is inspired by the poem.

The Swedish progressive metal band Seventh Wonder's album The Great Escape (2010) contains a 30-minute track of the same name which is based on the Aniara saga.


  1. ^ "Harry Martinson – Bibliography". Martinson's bibliography at Nobel Foundation's website
  2. ^ a b c d Preface to Martinson, Harry; Maria Cristina Lombardi, ed. (2005). Aniara. Odissea nello spazio. Scheiwiller. ISBN 88-7644-481-5.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link), the Italian edition of Aniara.
  3. ^ Ott, Aadu; Broman, Lars (1988). "Aniara: On a Space Epic and its Author". International Planetarium Society, Inc.
  4. ^ "Harry Martinson: Catching the Dewdrop, Reflecting the Cosmos". Nobel Foundation.
  5. ^ Andersson, Karl-Olof (2003). Harry Martinson: naturens, havens och rymdens diktare [Harry Martinsson: poet of nature, sea and space] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Bilda i samarbete med Harry Martinson-sällsk. p. 123. ISBN 91-574-7688-8. LIBRIS 9199287.
  6. ^ a b Liukkonen, Petri. "Harry Martinson". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 9 April 2003.
  7. ^ Larsson, Ulf. "Harry Martinson: Catching the Dewdrop, Reflecting the Cosmos".
  8. ^ Ashley, Tim. "Fidelio – Edinburgh festival 2013 review". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Aniara". 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-08.
  10. ^ Sturgeon, Theodore (August 1963). "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 180–182.

Adoxophyes is a genus of moths of the tribe Archipini.

Adoxophyes aniara

Adoxophyes aniara is a species of moth of the family Tortricidae. It is found in New Guinea.

Aniara (disambiguation)

Aniara is a poem of science fiction written by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson in 1956.

Aniara may also refer to:

Aniara (beetle), an insect genus in the family Carabidae

Scopula aniara, a moth of the family Geometridae

Aniara (opera), an opera in two acts by Karl-Birger Blomdahl, with a libretto by Erik Lindegren based on the poem Aniara by Harry Martinson

Aniara (opera)

Aniara is an opera in two acts by Karl-Birger Blomdahl, with a libretto by Erik Lindegren based on the poem Aniara by Harry Martinson, that was premiered on 31 May 1959. The opera was described by the composer with the ambiguous phrase en revy om människan i tid och rum: "a revue about Man in Time and Space".The score of Aniara is varied and makes full use of a range of musical idioms, including jazz, serial writing and an electronic tape. The narrative is sung primarily by Mimaroben, a bass-baritone, who operates the electronic tape, Mima, the computer, and by the chorus. In essence the opera (and poem) deal with the relationship between the individual and the group through time.

Many representatives of the international press were at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm for the premiere in 1959 at a time when the space age was beginning. Blomdahl said in interview that the opera (in common with his next opera Herr von Hancken) was founded on "modern man's complexity and his basically impossible situation"; Aniara dealt with "the downfall of the group". A production was mounted in Gothenburg in 1994.

Aniara sepulchralis

Aniara sepulchralis is a species of beetle in the family Carabidae, the only species in the genus Aniara.

Anna Kristina Kallin

Anna Kristina Kallin-Häggblom (born 6 December 1953 in Umeå, dead 25 August 2004 in Gothenburg (aged 50) (due to illness)) was a Swedish singer and actress. She appeared in many plays at Backa Theatre, among them Aniara, Spöket på Canterville, Eliza and Girl Power.

Anniara Muñoz

Anniara Muñoz Carrazana (born January 24, 1980) is a Cuban volleyball player who competed with the Cuba women's national volleyball team at the 2004 Summer Olympics winning the bronze medal. She also competed at the 2002 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Germany. On club level she played with Cienfuegos.

Cikada Prize

The Cikada Prize was founded in 2004 following the 100th anniversary celebration in commemoration of the birth of the Swedish Nobel Prize winner, Harry Martinson. The award consists of a diploma, 20.000 SEK and a piece of ceramic art designed by the Swedish ceramics artist Gunilla Sundström.

The award was initially (the first five prizes) presented in cooperation with the European Institute of Japanese Studies (EIJS) at the Stockholm School of Economics, the spa hotel Yasuragi, Judiska Teatern (The Jewish Theater), Östasieninstitutet (East Asia Institute) and Nyteboden. From 2013 it is mainly financed by the Swedish Institute.

The name of the prize has been inspired by Martinson's poetry collection "Cikada", which was published in 1953 (Cikada is Swedish for the insect family Cicadidae). In this collection is also included the first 29 poems of his famous work Aniara, "The Song about Doris and Mima". The atomic bombs in Japan, followed by the construction of the world's first H-bomb in 1953, had a big impact on Martinson's writing, which is reflected in Aniara. The prize focuses on East Asian poets, writing in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, not only because of Harry Martinson's great interest in East Asian literature, but also because the initiators of the prize believe poetry written in these languages deserves better recognition.

Erik Lindegren

J. Erik Lindegren (August 5, 1910 – May 31, 1968) was a Swedish author, poet, critical writer and member of the Swedish Academy (1961–68, chair 17). Grandson of composer Johan Lindegren.

Lindegren was born in Luleå, Norrbotten County, the son of a railway engineer. With Gunnar Ekelöf, he belonged to the most prominent exponents of the lyric modernism flourishing in his country, especially from the 1940s. He translated the works of T. S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Graham Greene, Saint-John Perse, Dylan Thomas, William Faulkner, Paul Claudel and many others into Swedish.He took a keen interest in music, opera and the visual arts, and was an accomplished opera librettist at the Royal Swedish Opera, and also an informed and enthusiastic opera critic. Lindegren wrote the libretto for Karl-Birger Blomdahl's space opera Aniara among others. Between 1948 and 1950 he led the literary magazine Prisma, one of the most lavish and broad ever produced in Sweden, aiming to "gauge the state of the arts in the present".

His poetry books include mannen utan väg ("The Man Without a Way", title without capital M; 1942, a breakthrough work of its generation) and Vinteroffer ("Winter Sacrifice", 1954). He died from pancreatic cancer in 1968.

Harry Martinson

Harry Martinson (6 May 1904 – 11 February 1978) was a Swedish author, poet and former sailor. In 1949 he was elected into the Swedish Academy. He was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974 together with fellow Swede Eyvind Johnson "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos". The choice was controversial, as both Martinson and Johnson were members of the academy and had partaken in endorsing themselves as laureates.

He has been called "the great reformer of 20th century Swedish poetry, the most original of the writers called 'proletarian'."

Johannes H. Berg Jr.

Johannes H. Berg Jr. (23 September 1956 – 29 April 2004) was a Norwegian science fiction and fantasy fandom enthusiast, club founder, convention organiser, fanzine writer, and translator.

Berg, from Oslo, Norway, was a cornerstone of the Norwegian science fiction and fantasy fandom scene from the 1970s, with Oslo's SF club Aniara and through the next several decades until his death from liver cancer in 2004. He was active in the Scandinavian fandom community, organising and participating in SF/F conventions over a period of more than twenty five years. Berg was also a knowledgeable and highly regarded founding member of the Norwegian Tolkien society, Arthedain, and he translated Tolkien's books Tree and Leaf (containing the stories Leaf by Niggle and On Fairy-Stories) and Smith of Wootton Major into Norwegian; both were published in 1995. He also acted as a consultant for the subtitling of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Additionally, he translated Katharine Kerr's Deverry cycle into Norwegian.

In addition to his interests in science fiction and fantasy literature, Berg was an accomplished role player, board game player, and wargamer, and was a central figure in Oslo's role & board playing society Ares and its annual convention Arcon. As the translator of the Dungeons & Dragons basic set (the so-called blue and red books) to Norwegian, he was instrumental in the introduction and popularization of role-playing games in Norway.

His daily job was at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology. During the last years of his life, Berg worked on a master's thesis on the history of the Norwegian flag, and was instrumental in consolidating all the country's various fandom societies and clubs into a nationwide umbrella organisation, called Hyperion / N4F.

It is a measure of his dedication to SF/F fandom that, although severely weakened by his condition, he spent the last weekend of his life at an SF convention in Bergen, several hundred miles from his home in Oslo.

Jon Bing

Jon Bing (30 April 1944 – 14 January 2014) was a Norwegian writer and law professor at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law (NRCCL), and the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. Bing was considered a pioneer in international IT and information law. He held honorary doctorates from the University of Stockholm and the University of Copenhagen, and was a Visiting Professor at Kings College, University of London. Bing was part of The Protection of Privacy Committee. From 1979 to 1981 he was head of Norsk Filmråd. Between 1981 and 1982 he was the head of Council of Europe Committee on Legal Data Processing. Between 1993 and 2000, he headed Norsk kulturråd.

He was a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.Together with Tor Åge Bringsværd and other students at the University in Oslo, Jon Bing started the Aniara society, a club for science fiction fans. He was often profiled in the media around the topic. He published several books, both fiction and non-fiction specialist literature. His first published work was the short story collection Around the sun in a circle, co-written with Bringsværd, and published in 1967. Bing was a prolific fiction author, often collaborating with other authors.

Bing was engaged with many subjects, especially in the field of technology. He was featured on television on the anniversary of the first Personal Computer in Norway, for example. He was a much-loved public figure, often offering opinions on digital media, copyright, science fiction, etc. He was outspoken about cases concerning ethics in technology, copyright, and the future in general.

His style of writing was calm, and at times dreamy. He wrote about people who stand outside of ordinary society, but attempts the impossible. In the short story Riestopher Josef from Around the sun in a circle he wrote about a boy who can't leave his house due to skin disease. The short story is about Riestopher who builds himself a spaceship and goes to the sun to capture a sunbeam.

He died at the age of 69 in 2014.

Karl-Birger Blomdahl

Karl-Birger Blomdahl (19 October 1916 – 14 June 1968) was a Swedish composer and conductor born in Växjö. He was educated in biochemistry, but was primarily active in music and by his experimental compositions he became one of the big names in Swedish modernism. His teachers included Hilding Rosenberg. He died in Kungsängen, Stockholm.

His third symphony, Facettes – a work in one subdivided movement as a twelve-tone variation-form piece – from 1950 is a major contribution to the repertoire. In 1959 he composed the opera Aniara based on the poem by Harry Martinson. His output of compositions also includes concertos for violin and viola, a chamber concerto for piano, winds and percussion, at least one other opera (Herr von Hancken), and much chamber music, including a trio for clarinet, cello and piano.

Kjerstin Dellert

Kjerstin Dellert (4 November 1925 – 5 March 2018) was a Swedish opera singer and theater manager.

Scopula aniara

Scopula aniara is a moth of the family Geometridae. It was described by Prout in 1934. It is endemic to Costa Rica.

Silvër Horizon

Silvër Horizon is the sixth studio album of Finnish melodic heavy metal band Diablo. It was released in Finland 18 September 2015 and in Central Europe 30 October 2015.

Album made it to #1 in Finnish official charts for the week 39/2015 as Mimic 47 did in year 2006. Albums Icaros and Eternium also went to top 3 back when they were released.

There was seven years between this and previous album of Diablo, Icaros, which was released in May 2008. Songs of Silver Horizon were composed and their lyrics were written in the same order they are in the album. Story that develops through the songs is loosely based on the sci-fi book Aniara written by Harry Martinson.

Sixten Ehrling

Evert Sixten Ehrling (3 April 1918 – 13 February 2005) was a Swedish conductor and pianist who, during a long career, served as the music director of the Royal Swedish Opera and the principal conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

Ehrling was born in Malmö, Sweden, the son of a banker. From the age of 18 he attended the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm. At the academy he studied the violin, organ, and piano as well as conducting. During World War II, he studied under both Karl Böhm and Albert Wolff.

He made his public debut as a conductor with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in 1950, conducting Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" from memory. In 1953 Ehrling was named the music director of the Royal Swedish Opera, a post he held until 1960. During these years he worked closely with the acclaimed singers tenor Jussi Björling and soprano Birgit Nilsson. In the early 1950s Ehrling recorded the first complete set of Sibelius symphonies with the Stockholm orchestra. In 1959 Ehrling took the production of Aniara, composed by Karl-Birger Blomdahl, to the Edinburgh International Festival.

Ehrling's tenure with the Swedish Royal Opera ended in bitterness. He resigned his post and departed for the United States after he was asked to amend, and apologise for, his robust leadership style. In 1963 Ehrling replaced the departing Paul Paray as the principal conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. During his time in Detroit, the composer Luciano Berio had a brief residency. Ehrling was, perhaps, the perfect journeyman conductor. He could, and did, conduct everything well: opera, symphonic and choral music. He had perfect sympathy to style and period in whatever he conducted, focusing the attention on the music rather than himself. Unlike Leonard Bernstein or Leopold Stokowski, however, he did not take the role of innovator on the podium.

Maestro Ehrling conducted nearly 700 works, including 24 world premieres, and helped inaugurate the Meadow Brook Summer Music Festival. In 1973, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut, where he conducted 12 different operas, including Wagner's "Ring Cycle." He led 55 orchestras and ensembles in North and South America, and countless orchestras around the world, during his celebrated five decade career.

Ehrling also taught at the Juilliard School of Music between 1973 and 1987. At Juilliard, Ehrling nurtured a new wave of conductors, including Myung-Whun Chung, Kenneth Jean, Jo Ann Falletta, Christian Badea, Victoria Bond, Andrew Litton, Donald Covert, and Gary Berkson.

Maestro Ehrling's difficult personality was overshadowed only by his wit. "Someone once told me I was not difficult, I was impossible. I agreed," he confided to Detroit Free Press music critic John Guinn, 7/1/90. He told his American publicist that he preferred reading his reviews in the smallest room of his house, and brilliantly interwove business arrangements with extremely humorous observations.

"In his final interview with Guinn, he noted that "They had a ceremony In Sweden for my birthday recently, and the man giving the birthday tribute had a great line. 'Mr. Ehrling nowadays is not angry,' he said. Then he paused, 'All the time,' he added."

Ehrling was one of the last conductors to know both Stravinsky and Sibelius, personally.

When he discovered mistakes in their manuscripts, they were immediately informed.

In 1987 Ehrling participated in the documentary A Woman Is a Risky Bet: Six Orchestra Conductors directed by Christina Olofson where he comments on the conservative attitudes towards women in the world of classical music.

Sixten Ehrling died on February 13, 2005 in New York, where he had lived since the 1970s. He was married to a former Stockholm opera ballerina, Gunnel Lindgren. They had two daughters.

Swedish Modernist poetry

Swedish modernist poetry denotes modernist poetry of Swedish literature. It developed in the 1930s and 1940s. Distinguishing features was the lust to experiment, and to try a variety of styles, usually free prose without rhymes or metric syllables.

The lead figure of the modernists soon turned out to be Hjalmar Gullberg (1898–1961). He wrote many mystical and Christianity influenced collections, such as Andliga övningar (Spiritual Exercises, 1932), but continued to develop and published his greatest work, Ögon, läppar (Eyes, Lips), in 1959.

Other important modernistic poets were Artur Lundkvist (1906–1991), Gunnar Ekelöf (1907–1968), Edith Södergran (1892–1923) and Harry Martinson (1904–1978).

Gunnar Ekelöf has become described as Sweden's first surrealistic poet, after he debuted with the poetry collection sent på jorden in 1932, a work was too unconventional to become appreciated. But Ekelöf moved towards romanticism and got betters reviews for his second poetry collection Dedikationen in 1934. A work that became influential for later Swedish poets was his Färjesång in 1941, a finely expressed blend of romanticism, surrealism and the dark clouds of the ongoing World War II.Edith Södergran did not achieve fame during her lifetime, but is today regarded as one of the foremost modernistic poets from the Nordic countries, and she has been translated into all major languages. Her first poetry collection was Dikter in 1916, but it was her second collection, Septemberlyran (1918) that caught the attention of a larger audience. It is distinguished by a kind of beauty that had not been seen for a long time. Södergran suffered from tuberculosis, which took her life as early as 1923.Harry Martinson had an unparalleled feeling of nature, in the spirit of Linnaeus. As typical for his generation, he wrote with a free prosody, not bound by rhymes and syllables. A classic work was the autobiographical Flowering Nettles, in 1935. His most remarkable work was however Aniara, 1956, a story of a spaceship drifting through space.The arguably most famous Swedish poet of the 20th century is otherwise Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015). His poetry is distinguished by a Christian mysticism, moving on the verge between dream and reality, the physical and the metaphysical.

The Great Escape (Seventh Wonder album)

The Great Escape is the fourth album by Swedish progressive metal band Seventh Wonder. It was recorded over the Spring and Summer of 2010, and was released on December 3, 2010. It is the only album by the band to feature a track longer than 10 minutes. It is also the last album recorded with Johnny Sandin on drums, as he left the band due to personal reasons after the recording and subsequent shows. "Alley Cat" is the first Seventh Wonder song to have an accompanying music video from the band.

The title track 'The Great Escape' is an epic song based on the poems 'Aniara' by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson. It deals with the tragedy of a spaceship which, originally bound for Mars with a cargo of surviving colonists from a ravaged and destroyed Earth, is ejected from the solar system and becomes entangled in an existential struggle. The first track 'Wiseman' doubles loosely as a prequel to the events of 'The Great Escape'.

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