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Åke Ohlmarks

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Åke Ohlmarks
Biographical information
BornJune 3, 1911
OccupationTranslator, author

Åke Joel Ohlmarks (1911-1984) was a Swedish author, translator and historian of religion. He translated nine of Tolkien's works into Swedish and published the first biography on Tolkien in the world.


Ohlmarks and Tolkien

Ohlmarks' translation of The Lord of the Rings (Sagan om ringen, Sagan om de två tornen and Sagan om konungens återkomst) was considered very bad by Tolkien, who expressed a strong dislike in Letters 228 and 229. Because of his experience with the Swedish and Dutch translations, Tolkien even wrote Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings to prevent further wrongdoing in translations.[1]

Several authors have claimed that Ohlmarks' translation incorporated badly translated names, injection of adjectives and adverbs, and an archaic and poetic style not found in the original work. Above all else, it has been pointed out that there are many errors based on insufficient knowledge of English.[2][3][4]

Not all comments on Ohlmarks' translation have been critical. Tolkien himself noted Ohlmarks' correct translation of Middle-earth to Midgård (similarly derived from middan-geard, the "old 'mythological' name").[5] Anders Stenström has noted some other cases, where Ohlmarks' knowledge of Old Norse language and literature enabled him able to to make a good translation of certain names.[3]

However, the negative critique outweighed the positive.[3] In the 1970s, Ohlmarks became enraged when Christopher Tolkien wrote that he would only allow a Swedish translation of The Silmarillion if Ohlmarks was not connected to it.[6]

Two years before his death, Ohlmarks blamed Swedish Tolkien fans for a fire to his house, and wrote Tolkien och den svarta magin, "Tolkien and the Black Magic". In it, he concocted a conspiracy theory that claimed Tolkien, and The Tolkien Society, practised black magic and Nazi occultism.[7]

In 2004, a new Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings, made by Erik Andersson, was published.[3]


Selected bibliography of works concerned with J.R.R. Tolkien.



External links


  1. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 750-1
  2. Martin Andersson, "Lord of the Errors or, Who Really Killed the Witch-King?" dated 22 January 2007, Sword & Sorcery and Weird Fiction Terminus amateur press association (accessed 1 January 2012)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Beregond, Anders Stenström, "Tolkien in Swedish Translation: from Hompen to Ringarnas herre", in Translating Tolkien: Text and Film (ed. Thomas M. Honegger), pp. 115-124
  4. Ingvar Svensson, Tolkiens Midgård: en uppslagsbok, p. 4
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 774
  6. Åke Ohlmarks, Tolkiens arv, p. 121
  7. Åke Ohlmarks, Tolkien och den svarta magin, passim
Translators of J.R.R. Tolkien's books into Swedish
 Roland Adlerberth · Erik Andersson · Britt G. Hallqvist · Öjevind Lång · Åke Ohlmarks · Tore Zetterholm