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The Swedish Society for Belles-Lettres

The Swedish Society for Belles-Lettres (Svenska Vitterhetssamfundet) is a non-profit organization founded in 1907 with the aim of producing scholarly editions of the works of classical, post-Reformation Swedish authors, currently ranging from Georg Stiernhielm (1598­–1672) to Gustaf Fröding (1860–1911) and Selma Lagerlöf (1858–1940).

The society is headed by a board of 12 members, presently: Anders Olsson (Chair), Paula Henrikson (Vice Chair), Petra Söderlund (Editor-in-chief, Secretary, Treasurer), Barbro Ståhle Sjönell (Assistant Editor-in-chief), Maria Berggren, Lars Burman, Mats Dahlström, Gunnel Engwall, Mats Malm, Tomas Riad, Per Stam and Johan Svedjedal.

Since its inception, the society has submitted two to three book editions per year to its members. Some 170 volumes of editions have been printed, representing works by almost 40 authors. In addition, the society has published facsimile editions of 18th and 19th century literary calendars, anthologies and conference proceedings on scholarly editing and editorial theory, a handbook for scholarly editors, addresses at the society’s annual meeting (since 1995), and the annual bulletins from the society to its members. The history of the society was presented by Petra Söderlund at the annual meeting in 2006 in an address entitled Hundra år av vitterhet (One Hundred Years of Belles-Lettres).

Each scholarly edition is the responsibility of the individual editor assigned by the society board, as well as of the society’s Editor-in chief and Assistant Editor-in-chief, who are both employed part-time. When particular problems of textual scholarship and scholarly editing arise, the editors are also supported by a group of five experienced experts (Paula Henrikson, Mats Malm, Tomas Riad, Barbro Ståhle Sjönell and Petra Söderlund). In addition, the editorial work is governed by guidelines comprised by Paula Henrikson in 2007, Textkritisk utgivning. Råd och riktlinjer (Critical editing: Recommendations and Guidelines). These guidelines deal not only with the choice of base text. In establishing the text, the editor also faces issues such as scribal and printing errors, inconsistencies, inadequate punctuation and variants. The editions are usually provided with introductions discussing editorial, literary and linguistic problems, and, in some cases, questions within the field of the history of ideas. There are also textual commentaries with lists of variants and descriptions of manuscripts, earlier drafts, different printed editions as well as glossaries.

Financial support of the society’s printing and administrative costs is provided by contributions from various funds and foundations within research and culture. The direction and editorial principles of the society were outlined and approved by the board in May 2014.