During his visit to Rome, at the start of October, the Swedish writer Ulf Peter Hallberg has offered several doubts to those who are sure about the current perception of an European culture affected – according to the general feeling – by disillusion and disconnection to the European dream among artists and in the population.
Hallberg has proposed – both in his writing and in an interesting conversation that he had with the participants at a dinner at the residence of the Swedish Ambassador in Rome, Ruth Jacoby – a different image of Europe, filtered through his own experience, that of a member of a family passionate about European culture (interpreted in the broadest sense, from Baudelaire to Greta Garbo). Hallberg is a Swedish writer that expresses a European perspective, he was born in Malmö (but he lives in Berlin since 1983) and he emerged as an author in theatre and cinema, with a narrative between fiction and essay.
That drawn by Hallberg in “Europeiskt Skräp” is a tribute to European culture, but that traces its roots in personal experience, because in the course of the narrative the writer has found in his childhood home objects, paintings, newspaper clippings: these things are not worth much money, but communicate love for freedom given by knowledge, an alternative to a world that values as fundamental principles money and appearance, then Hallberg started working about the memory of his father, just passed away.
“European Trash” (distributed in Italy by “Hyperborea”, the publishing house that takes care of Northern European literature) is structured as the development of a bereavement, that gets a deeper sense gathering a wonderful legacy, a multitude of items and papers emanating flares of European culture: Benjamin, Italian neo-realism, Paris, historians such as Burckhardt, the painters Bager and Nemes.
“My father – Hallberg says – incorporated these items in the dream world of the family, built intricate systems, folders and catalogues that attracted to a kind of universal history. He elevated us to the world’s magnificence. Just like Strindberg, he tried to make gold. And I am now convinced that he has succeeded. “
Ulf Peter Hallberg then collects from his father an assignment: to reassemble the fragmented nature of the current times in a contemporary humanism. The author recalls the family history starting from his home and switches to cities that he has visited several times; he switches from preferred movies to rare objects, different elements that join personal memories of Hallberg, since he began to write the book after losing a reference point, his father, and he felt the need to regroup somehow his universe, which was largely coincident with European culture as a whole, from the historical to the popular expressions.
“In the book I tried to connect all the things I loved most, and that my father had loved the most,” said the writer, then retracing his travels in the Mediterranean and the entrance to the family home, where the reader is struck by the image of the notebooks of his father, found almost willing to be consulted.
The author recalls the noise heard in his childhood , while his father was cutting, from Scandinavian newspapers, articles about contemporary European culture. Hallberg recalls that his father was eighty-six years old at the end of his life, but still he looked much younger than many of his peers, a sign that Europe with its culture is still an healthy dream to many people.
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