Volym 134, 2013
Israel Holmström – the secular and ‘light’ lyric poetry.
Israel Holmström (1661–1708) was a civil servant in the Swedish war cabinet. He wrote love poems, amusement poems and burlesque poems. He followed Karl XII in the war on the European continent and wrote political propaganda poems. Contrary to almost all other Swedish poets of his time, he wrote no religious poetry.
In my essay I analyze rhetorical and linguistic contexts in the secular song-poems of Holmström, and the varying use of expressive metaphors. Holmström's extensive writings within the domains of song-poetry stretch from the fixed patterns of petrarchism, to which the author supplements a rich linguistic and metaphorical variety, over the opposite expressions of antipetrarchism, to the coarse, "low" language and scatological expressions of the burlesque. Holmström's "light" poetry is stylistically very diverse, richer in metaphors than perhaps any other poet during Sweden's great power period, and whereas Holmström's "light" poetry display a linguistic variation within the regulated, tradition-bound forms of the petrarchistic diction, in the unregulated antipetrarchistic and burlesque poetry the author pushes to the extreme using diverse linguistic and stylistic means. In the essay I make an attempt to define the characteristics of these secular song-poems.
The paradoxical in Runeberg's idyllic poetry
The idyll appears in Runeberg's work in two different forms: on the one hand, there are the idyllic epics Hanna and Elgskyttarne, on the other hand, we have the two cycles of poems that he entitled "Idyll and Epigram". In this paper it is argued that Runeberg has derived both of them from German poetics, in particular from Schiller's theory of the idyll.
Runeberg, following Schiller's classification of poets as naïve or sentimental aspired to be a "naïve" poet who takes his subjects from reality itself. For Schiller the idyll is a sentimental genre in which the poet creates the poetic world from an idea and retains a reflexive distance to it; however, Schiller thinks that a further division into naïve and sentimental idyllic poetry can be made. It is here suggested that while Voss's Luise and Goethe's Hermann und Dorothea served as practical examples for Runeberg's idyllic epics of contemporary life, Hanna and Elgskyttarne, the theoretical foundation for these works, of which especially the latter one has often been admired for its "realism", can be found in Schiller's notion of naïve idyll. Moreover, the title "Idyll and Epigram" seems to contradict the contents of the cycles, which consist of poems written in imitation of Serbian folk poetry. Here it is argued that Runeberg expresses with the seemingly unsuitable title his awareness of the difference between the original and the imitation: while the original folk poetry is "naïve" in the Schillerian sense, imitation of this naiveté by a "learned" poet from another culture expresses a sentimental attitude characteristic of idyllic poetry.
The Battle Is Ours! A Study of Olof Fryxell's Snow Castle: a Tale for Countryside Boys and the Revival of Gothicism in 19th Century Swedish Children's Literature.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss the history of children's literature in relation to the cultural movement of Gothicism revitalized by national Romanticism in early 19th century Sweden. The strong tradition of Gothicism has been extensively researched from different historical and literary viewpoints. Much attention has been paid to the construction of masculinity in advice manuals, in connection to the partial return to the sturdy manhood of the Vikings, as well as to the ideological meanings and functions of Ling-gymnastics within the movement. My essay highlights the notion of the child and the importance of children's literature in this context.
The 39 pages long Children's book Snöfästningen: Berättelse för Landt-Gåßar (1830) [Snow Castle: a Tale for Countryside Boys], by the Swedish minister and poet Olof Fryxell (1806– 1900), is here considered a focal point for illustrating the ideological meaning of the child in this specific historical situation. Thus, Snöfästningen can be identified as one of the most important fictional expressions of Gothicism directly intended for young male readers during the first half of the 19th century. Fryxell's depiction of boys playing at soldiers illustrates how a special form of children's literature took form within the movement. This literature, envisioned for children, was made to make and educate future citizens and shows how the idea of childhood permeates the rhetoric of nation and citizenship during the first half of the century.
The historical imaginings of children's play in Fryxell's tale for countryside boys, however, proves to be significant not only for the discursive construction of masculinity and communality that took form within the Gothicism revival. It also systematically sets out to portray the world of the child from a child's perspective. Therefore, Snöfästningen turns out to be an ambivalent example of the complex transition to new corresponding conceptions of realism and Romanticism within the history of Swedish Children's literature
The place that never was: the utopian society in Viktor Rydberg's novel Vapensmeden
The dissertation of Örjan Lindberger (Prometeustanken hos Viktor Rydberg, 1938) provided an influential model for the interpretation of the poetical works of Viktor Rydberg (1828–1895). Lindberger's thesis is that Rydberg was guided by a "Promethean vision", characterized by a dualistic worldview, radical liberalism and an ambition to present utopian ideals. Support for this hypothesis was found in works from the earlier stages of Rydberg's career, but Lindberger also noted that Rydberg's later works, including the historical novel Vapensmeden (1891), did not seem to meet the Promethean standards. He therefore described them as "tragic failures", presupposing that Rydberg did stick to his earlier ambitions. His treatment of Vapensmeden is only cursory, but he suggests that one element in the novel, a community of outlaws led by a semi-mythical character, is a failed attempt to represent a utopia. This suggestion was developed by later scholars. Gösta Löwendahl (1954) expounds the utopian nature of this community in detail, establishing it as Rydberg's outline of an ideal anti-industrial society. Andreas Hedberg (2012) describes it as an utopia representing pastoral ideals and providing a testing ground for ideas critical to modernization. This paper tries to show that the utopias described by these scholars have only limited support in the novel, and that there is no evidence that Rydberg intended to present an utopian society in his novel or that contemporary readers interpreted it in that way. The conclusion is that the utopian society in Vapensmeden is a scholarly construct, generated by an over-extension of Lindberger's model.
The woman beyond the main road. Sonja Åkessons reply to Ragnar Thoursie
This article examines the intertextual relations between the Swedish author Sonja Åkesson's poem "Kvällspromenad" (Evening Walk), published in 1959, and the Swedish author Ragnar Thoursie's poem "Sundbybergs-prologen" (The Sundbyberg Prologue) (1952). The aim is to demonstrate how "Kvällspromenad" has a deep and polemic relation to "Sundbybergs-prologen". The comparison between the two poems is made by using Manfred Pfister's six criteria for analysing intertextual relations: reference, communication, autoreflexion, structure, selection and dialogue.
The analysis shows that the intertextual relation is deep and strong. Sonja Åkesson gives a completely different view of modern life in post-war Sweden in her poem compared to the intertext. While Ragnar Thoursie describes a male worker walking home from the factory in the middle of the night and through that praises the ongoing building of the Swedish welfare state with its communion for all, Sonja Åkesson, in her poem, lets a lonely and alienated woman walk around in the same modern suburbs, but in a society where she seems homeless. The many intertextual relations between Åkesson's "Kvällspromenad" and its intertext, can be seen on a thematic as well as a metaphorical level.
The study "'Apparaten som bättre vet'. Romanisering och problembiografi i Birgitta Trotzigs Sjukdomen" ("'The apparatus which better knows'. Novelization and Problem-biography in Birgitta Trotzigs Sjukdomen") is devoted to a novel by Birgitta Trotzig. The primary aim is to explore the intertextual dialogue with psychiatric discourse actualized in the novel Sjukdomen. The study is based on Michel Foucault's thesis that psychiatry is reason's monologue regarding insanity. The main focus is on two topics in psychiatric discourse, first that the patient is silent in the psychiatric journal and second that the patient in psychiatric discourse is represented in relation to diagnosis. The novel is then read in relation to psychiatric discourse.
The reception of Trotzig's novel has placed the narrating partly inside the characters, using terms like internalization.Contrary to the earlier research— which has seen Trotzig's narrative voice as solidary to the characters in her novels — this study emphasizes that the narrating can be read as an intertextual relation with psychiatric discourse, meaning that the voice comes from "above" and from the "outside" with no solidarity with its characters. Further,the characters has been read and interpreted as perverted and mentally ill. The study does not emphasize the mental illness of the characters, but shows that the novels uses a metamorphic theme distorting the psychiatric discourse which means the characters can be seen as a critical and comic comment on how the human being is narrated in psychiatric discourse — the novels actualize the psychiatric discourse in the story but distorts it in the narrative by using the metamorphic theme.The last part of the study focuses on what the title of the novel Sjukdomen (The Sickness) refers to, arguing that the title does not refer to the characters or the society in Sjukdomen but to the psychiatric discourse which is actualized in the novel.The result of the study shows that the novels can be read as critical comment to psychiatric discourse, and as a struggle to distort the discourse's language about human beings.
"In the middle of eternity". Representation of the Cosmos of Modern Science in Peter Nilson's Stjärnvägar.
In this article, I analyse Peter Nilson's essay book Stjärnvägar. The book is about the world view of modern science, and my point of departure is the question of how perspectives and theories from modern science are represented. In Stjärnvägar, Nilson repeatedly refers to the book itself as a "cosmic book". My analysis focuses on what a "cosmic book" is, and in this analysis Nilson's reference to Dante's Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy) is central. I show that there is an overarching narrative structure in Stjärnvägar, which is connected to one of the main themes of the book: the creative aspects of cosmic time and evolutionary processes. The overarching narrative is shown to consist of a kind of self-thematisation: Peter Nilson's writing of the cosmic book. This finds a parallel in Dante, who also thematises the writing of his book. Another parallel is both authors' attempts to represent the medieval and the modern cosmos, respectively. The different literary forms of Divine Comedy and Stjärnvägar are also shown to mirror differences in the world views of medieval philosophy and modern science. I conclude by discussing further research on other books by Nilson, as well as on books by other authors in genres close to Stjärnvägar: essay books and popular science books attempting to discuss and convey the theories and world views of modern science.
Rainbow families and transgendered children. New inhabitants in Swedish picture books for children
This study is an analysis of Swedish picture books for children with queer themes. It includes books published since 1999, questioning the heterosexual norm regarding sex, gender, and sexuality. The books deviate from the traditional nuclear family ideal in that they depict children or adults who have not adapted to a traditional gender representation or families with one or two of the parents living with a person of the same sex. While some books explicitly deal with the situation in families with two mothers or explain how children are conceived by artificial insemination, others do not comment upon the relations between the adults at all. In some books the queer theme only exists as a subtext, barely noticeable to others than the adult reader. A new motive is also children with undefined sex or gender characteristics, so called uni characters (unikaraktärer). In 2012 the first children's book using the Swedish language gender neuter pronoun "hen" for a child with unspecified sex was published.
Most of the examined books have been published by new publishing companies which have been severely criticized for publishing books in which the message has been seen as more important than artistic quality. This study also analyses some of these animated debates in Swedish media and in various forums on the internet contrasting politics with artistic ambitions in children's books and the question whether books with a queer theme is appropriate reading for children.
An interesting question is to what extent the queer picture books for children really challenge the ruling norms. The examined books in this article show that children are allowed to transcend the traditional gender boundaries or appear in a gender neuter way. Adults, however, are with very few exceptions "normalized" in so far as they live in happy marriages, with concern for their children as their main purpose in life.