Det förlorade landet
Shortlisted for the August Prize of 1996: ” An incorruptible, complex, lucid and thrilling analysis.”
Det förlorade landet is a personal essay, a history of ideas, an intellectual journey, a daring and provoking venture. It is a book about Israel, not only as the modern Jewish State, but as perhaps the most thorough and influential utopia of our civilization: The Promised Land. In Swedish, one single letter makes the difference between Promised and Lost.
Göran Rosenberg traces the roots of present day Israel way back in history, beyond Zionism and the Holocaust, to the Biblical promise of Messiah, the ingathering of the exile and the institution of God’s final order on earth. It is a fascinating and illuminating journey, providing new and eye-opening perspectives to one of the most central motifs in Western history. The title indicates where Rosenberg’s personal exploration finally takes him.
The points of departure are multiple; the arrival 1962 of a 13-year-old boy in Israel and his upbringing in the Spartan world of pioneer Zionism; the apocalyptic shadows of the Holocaust, the wars and conquests of the Palestinian conflict; the rebellious and conspiratory interiors of the revolutionary left and the Palestinian solidarity movement of the late 60’s; the emerging conflict between the idea of Israel as a nation among nations and Israel as a nation with a messianic mission, a conflict that increasingly threatens to tear the Jewish state apart. Det förlorade landet is both an exciting history of ideas, as well as the political autobiography of a Jewish European intellectual, the son of Holocaust survivors, a child of dreams and desillusions, an astute observer of our times.
From the author’s foreword:
” In the long run it seems to me that the title of the book, The Lost land, must not necessarily be interpreted negatively. What is lost to me, messianic utopias and dreams, was perhaps not worth saving. What might be gained instead is for sure not a promised land, but because of that perhaps worth pursuing. Why go where everybody else has been – and smashed their heads?”
REVIEWS AND ENDORSEMENTS
” Det förlorade landet, is an intellectually stringent, pedagogically structured and morally impressive book, with an analysis that does not hesitate to confront the most painful of facts.”
Eva Ekselius in Dagens Nyheter
” Det förlorade landet is intellectually a most exciting book. During the journey I filled a whole note book with page references and commentaries, mostly supplemented with question or exclamation marks. I guess that’s the way it has to be when you struggle with a book that ultimately deals with ’the lost soul’ of Israel. This is certainly a rather presumptuous order, but I find that Rosenberg succeeds to deliver.”
Cordelia Edvardson in Svenska Dagbladet
” Göran Rosenberg’s Det förlorade landet is a distressing book about an immense disappointment … With intellectual integrity and great knowledge Rosenberg has shared with us his story of Israel.”
Gunnar Fredriksson in Aftonbladet
” Let me say it at once: Rosenberg has written a rich and unremittingly fascinating book. I cannot think of any other contemporary Swedish essayist that with such engagement and challenging spirit has given me the sense of being immersed in a discussion of outmost importance to my own existence. The book can be read as a Bildungsroman in disguise; dramatic, entertaining, moving. In a masterly prose the author describes his intellectual education och political search through three turbulent decades… With Rosenberg’s book the intellectual space of Sweden has become somewhat larger.”
Gabi Gleichmann in Expressen
” The most impressive book of the year! Göran Rosenberg has written a book about Israel as only an intellectual giant can do.”
Kjell-Ove Cederqvist in Dagbladet
” When Rosenberg now returns with another essay, I must state, after having read this brick of 500 pages in a stretch, that with Det förlorade landet he has surpassed everything that in recent years has been produced in the field of essays, at least when it comes to intellectual pregnancy … Göran Rosenberg’s lucid reasoning is an intellectual delight … With Det förlorade landet we have finally a history of Israel’s founding ideas that has the potential of becoming a work of reference for future discussions.”
Kutte Jönsson in Göteborgs Tidningen
” You close this book knowing that you have read a classic. Brave, brilliant and honest, and one learn a lot about the anatomy of a tragedy.”
Swedish writer and dramatist Per Olov Enquist in Expressen
” 1996 has been one of the best Swedish book years in decades. I few original and carefully polished novels will stay in my memory… I will however focus on a masterpiece of a stylistic brilliance not seen since the memoirs of [Herbert] Tingsten: Göran Rosenberg’s Det förlorade landet (Bonniers), a biography rising to become an inquiry into the utopias and the messianic dreams of our times, an history of ideas as exciting as an Agatha Christie. It combines sorrow and vitality, a subdued spirituality with an untiring ability of expression.”
Swedish writer and novelist Per Wästberg, member of The Royal Swedish Academy, in Dagens Nyheter.
PERSONAL COMMENTS AND ENDORSEMENTS
Lars Gustafsson, Swedish writer and poet:
” This is a book I lately have devoted every free minute to read. It is masterly in its combination of the subjective and the objective and deserves both the August Prize and, what is more important, foreign translations.”
Peter Englund, historian, writer:
I hope by God that it will be translated into Hebrew.
Zygmunt Bauman, sociologist och writer, professor emeritus at the University of Leeds:
” More than at any time I bewail the miserability of my Swedish, since from what I did manage to grasp I gather that it is a tremendously important book, one of those who are destined to 'shake the world' (a part of it, at any rate – the part close to home). I very much hope that an English-language version is in the pipeline. It would be a shame and a crime if it were not.”
On previous books by Göran Rosenberg:
Friare kan ingen vara - den amerikanska idén från Revolution till Reagan, Free Man’s Burden – the American Idea from Revolution to Reagan, Norstedts 1991:
” It is one of the best books on American political history written by a European author in recent times.” American political scientist Joseph B Board in Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, Swedish Journal of Political Science, 4/93
” It is brilliantly written. It’s form, a web of history and present, intensely stimulating. The most important book of the 1990’s.”
Per T Ohlsson, editor in chief, Sydsvenska Dagbladet