Patience and Persistence Pay Off for Professor Emeritus

Posted on November 15th, 2011 by

Professor Emeritus Bernhard Erling '43

In the world of academic publishing, sometimes you need to exhibit patience and persistence in order to see your desired end result. Take Professor Emeritus Bernhard Erling for example, who waited nearly 25 years before a project of his was finally published on the internet this fall.

Erling ‘43, who taught at Gustavus in the Department of Religion from 1957-88, had A Reader’s Guide to Dag Hammarskjöld’s Waymarks published on the internet by The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden, as part of the Foundation’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld.  

“I began studying Dag Hammarskjöld’s journal, Vägmärken, when the English translation, Markings, by Leif Sjöberg and D.H. Auden was published in 1964,” Erling said. “I used it in my Gustavus classes and in 1980-81 when I was an exchange professor at Kanzai University of Foreign Studies in Japan.”

But Erling wasn’t wholly satisfied with the Sjöberg/Auden translation and began to work on his own interpretation. He finished the translation in 1982 and the Reader’s Guide was completed in 1987.

“I began seeking a publisher for what I had written, but I was unsuccessful,” Erling said. “In 1999, I combined the translation and Reader’s Guide into one volume and had it copied at the Gustavus Print Shop and sent it out to be bound.”

The book was sold at the Book Mark and eventually became known in Sweden where it came to the attention of Dr. Henning Melber, Executive Director of The Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. Melber liked the book, got in touch with Erling, and plans were made to publish the book as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld.

Unfortunately, negotiations with Albert Bonniers förlag, the publishing company which holds the copyright to Vägmärken, proved unsuccessful as the 1963 contracts given to Faber & Faber in London and Knopf in New York stated that the Sjöberg/Auden translation would be the only English translation that could be published in the British Commonwealth or North America.

“Being unable to carry out their plan to publish hard copies of my book, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation decided to place it on the internet,” Erling said. “After 24 years it’s nice to get some recognition for the work I put into the project.”

Erling’s Reader’s Guide can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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