Volym 124, 2003
This paper is a study of the epithalamiums written by the poet Carl Michael Bellman. The collected works of Bellman include 32 wedding poems, but the attribution is unclear in six cases. Comparison shows that Bellman followed an acknowledged tradition when he wrote wedding poems, even if there are some exceptions.
It is possible to establish the social position of the bridegroom in 30 cases. The majority of them belonged somewhere on the middle part of the social scale.
The descriptions of women in the poems are of three different kinds. One is the virtuous and passive woman, the other an active and sexual woman, while the third is a more balanced character, who can be active and independent and still possess virtue.
The virtuous man is described as hardworking and efficent, while the negative picture of a man is someone who is passive and often a drunkard. When male virtue is mentioned in the poems it is often associated with the occupations, actions and official positions of the men. Female virtues, on the other hand, are mostly connected to thoughts and feelings.
Nina and Midsommar-resan (The Midnight Sun) are Fredrika Bremer’s only novels set in the north of Sweden. They are usually considered fairly unsuccessful, but they give valuable information about both the author’s relation to the ideals of literary realism and her ambivalent attitudes to nature as well as culture. In these novels, the north of Sweden emerges as a predominantly spiritual landscape where a visitor from the south can get closer to her inner being and to God. Northern Sweden is pictured as a pristine, natural region, untainted by the excesses of civilisation in the south and on the continent. Bremer uses the north to express her critique of the polite world, but this requires her to downplay any examples of cultural life in the north. As a result, she orientalises the region by producing a symbolic rather than a realistic description where Northern Sweden has value only on the conceptual level, as a contrast to the south and as a landscape where communion with God is possible.
Tore Lund, The Maker : some notes on Viktor Rydberg's poem Grubblaren
This paper deals with the poem Grubblaren ("The Brooder"), written in 1890 by Viktor Rydberg (1828–1895) at the end of a long period of poetic improductivity. Grubblaren has been called "the classic Swedish poem on the conflict between Faith and Science". To be more specific: between a religious world view ("a world with God and plan and meaning") and the "mechanical" one popular among proponents of "modern science" at the end of the 19th century. The poem made a great impression at the time of its publication and was generally seen as a powerful defence of the religious world view. 20th century scholars, on the other hand, have found Rydberg's argumentation lacking. The author has been seen as basically accepting the bleak and anguish-laden "mechanical" world view presented in the poem, and the "happy ending" (where the bells of Easter Sunday triumphantly ring in the resurrection of Faith in a scene openly referring to Goethe's Faust) has been seen as unconvinced and unconvincing.
The paper tries to modify this judgement and to present a new reading of the poem. The main lines of arguments are as follows:
(a) the Power of Poetry vs Scientific Discourse
Rydberg has traditionally been regarded as a "poet-philosopher" (idédiktare), which has led to a tendency among Swedish scholars to concentrate on the "ideological" content of his poems. Most previous studies of Grubblaren have fallen into this trap. But Rydberg does not attempt to refute the scientific world view by using its own rationalistic mode of discourse; instead he uses the medium of poetry in order to transcend it. He aims at the imagination and the emotions of the reader rather than at feeble "reason", and his exposition of the "mechanical" world view is designed to show that it is incompatible with fundamental human instincts.
(b) The third Visitor vs Dualistic Stalemate
Previous studies have stressed the dualistic structure of the poem, reflected in the visits to the Brooder's study chamber by the advocates of the two antagonistic world views – S:t Paul and Baco (Francis Bacon, "the father of modern science"). The existence of a third visitor – "the Spirit Girl" – has hardly been noted. The girl can – by reference to other texts by Rydberg – be shown to represent the Muse of Poetry. "Brooding" over Faith vs Science (or Freedom vs Determinism) can only end in a stalemate, and the existence of God cannot be proved by rational means. But the Muse points to a way leading over the Abyss – the road of Poetry. Her advice is (for obvious artistic reasons) initially ignored by the Brooder – but it is heeded by his creator, Viktor Rydberg, who by writing Grubblaren steps out of his chamber and uses his poetic gifts and personal authority to guide and comfort his contemporaries.
(c) From Brooder to Maker
The secret presence of the Muse splits the poem into two levels – one open and didactic, one personal and metapoetic. On the personal level the poem is about a "brooder" who transcends his brooding, who by a creative act of writing refutes mechanical and soulless determinism and thus re-establishes communication with God, the Source (or Name) of Creativity. The "happy ending" of the final stanzas ambiguously refer to both levels; the bells of the cathedral announce not only the resurrection of Faith but also the glorious resurrection of the Poet.
David Gedin, "Miserable Wretches Are We", new light on Heidenstam's attack on Fröding in 1896.
In 1896 Gustaf Fröding's poem "En morgondröm" ("A morning dream") was prosecuted for indecency. Fröding himself, who was popular with the public, was not held responsible for the poem. It was said he was sickly and lacking in judgment. Instead, the newspapers pointed to his close acquaintance, Verner von Heidenstam, as the responsible party. Heidenstam, it seems, panicked. He demanded that Fröding reject the accusation and tried not to take any part in defending the poem.
According to the established view, these events were solely the result of Heidenstam's thoughtlessness, but newly released letters from Heidenstam to his closest friend, Oscar Levertin, sheds new light on the issue.
The letters show Heidenstam demeaning and disparaging Fröding long before any legal action took place. Probably, this was done as a part of Heidenstam's effort to create a new rôle or position for himself as a writer. In contrast to the socially conscious authors of the 1880's, Heidenstam established himself as an aristocrat, contemptuous of the bourgeois audience, whose sole artistic responsibility was aesthetic, not ethical.
Society, however, did not yet support that kind of artistic identity. There were only a few scholarships and the critics still regarded themselves more as servants of the public than interpreters and mediators of the authors. Though Heidenstam did more than anybody to change the situation, by the founding of the Swedish Writers' Union in 1893 and by turning the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet into a forum for modern criticism in 1897, writers like Selma Lagerlöf and Gustaf Fröding could still succeed in combining a large audience with artistic status. Among them, Fröding was the most dangerous competitor to Heidenstam by also being a male poet.
At this particular time, when Heidenstam seemed about to conquer the larger public with his novel about Charles XII, Karolinerna, he was, in effect, directly challenging Fröding's position. Privately discrediting Fröding among their colleagues meant he could not later officially defend him without losing respect. Also, if his actions were made public, it would be a fatal blow to the elitist position he had created (in contrast to the more savage rôle of the still dominating Strindberg).
At the time of the fast and dramatic development leading up to the trial, Heidenstam was in Norway. Because of the delay in the flow of information, his attempt to control the events turned into a bizarre farce, where his actions only kept making his situation worse, until he declared himself too ill to participate and withdrew into isolation.
During all of this Heidenstam was working on Karolinerna. Interestingly, at this time the novel changes from being a study of the Swedish people during a tragic time of hardship and sacrifices, into a hagiology of the misunderstood hero-king. Though it could be argued that Heidenstam already had begun shifting from what appears to be a genuine feeling for ordinary people towards the abstract notion of the Nation, events during those frantic weeks in 1896 seem to have had a decisive alienating effect on him. After this point popular culture in Heidenstam's view was equivalent to vulgarity.
Claes Ahlund, A Militarization of the Mind: Swedish Literature and the First World War
The essay suggests that the literature of the First World War does not begin with the actual outbreak of the war in 1914, but much earlier. Anticipation of the coming war is a recurrent theme in Swedish literature during the preceding decades; attitudes varying from nationalist enthusiasm to pacifist and anti-militarist abhorrence. On both sides, however, ambivalence and contradiction are characteristic features. Among the authors discussed in this context are Nils Gottfrid Björck ("Sigvald Götsson", 1896–1891), Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940), Iwan Aminoff (1868–1928) and Frida Stéenhoff (1865–1945).
Anticipation of a coming war occur in poetry as well as in drama and what can be termed the invasion story, a genre increasingly popular in the decades between the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–1871 and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. The invasion story typically tells of a successful future invasion by a hostile nation that proves armaments and military training to have been totally insufficient. Particularly important in setting the standard for the invasion story was the Battle of Dorking (1871), written by Sir George Tomkyns Chesney. In the following decades invasion stories were written in–and translated into–many languages in Western Europe. The Swedish contributions include Hur vi förlorade Norrland ("How Norrland was lost", 1889), Hvarför vi förlorade slaget vid Upsala ("Why we lost the battle of Upsala", 1890), Med vapen i hand. Romantiserad skildring af vårt kommande krig ("At arms: a romantic story of our coming war", 1901–1902), and two invasion stories written by the same author, Iwan Aminoff: När krigsguden talar ("When the War-God speaks", 1912), and Invasionen ("The Invasion", 1912).
The literature of the decades preceding 1914 shows that the vision of a coming war was gradually becoming more substantial. The premonitions of war can be described as a dark undercurrent in a period otherwise characterized by technological and scientific progress as well as an optimistic view of the development of civilization. It is an undercurrent related either to nationalistic/quasi-religious and social darwinist conceptions of war as a positive factor in the history of civilization, or to pessimistic ideas of decadence and degeneration. In the war-literature before the war, there are pacifist novels as well as romantic and heroic stories; anti-militarist poetry as well as versified nationalist propaganda, urging the readers (and the authorities) to prepare for glorious and heroic war.
The second section of the essay deals with reactions to the war in nationalist magazines and children's literature in Sweden during the autumn of 1914. Far from giving an accurate picture of the realities of war, the journalists describe it as an adventure full of heroic opportunities. Neutral Sweden being excluded from direct participation in the warfare, many writers use history as a means to raise nationalist sentiment. Supposedly heroic deeds of the Swedish 17th and 18th century are typically set up as inspiring examples.
In the third and final section of the essay, the attitudes to the war in poetry published in right-wing, liberal, and socialist daily papers are discussed. The martial enthusiasm, predominant among conservative writers and right-wing papers in the early months of the war, in many cases is gradually replaced by a weariness of war. In the poetry published in the conservative Nya Dagligt Allehanda, however, the romantic attitude to war is maintained to the bitter end. Due to the civil war in Finland, heroic and romantic contributions even increase during 1918. The liberal daily Dagens Nyheter, on the other hand, at all times keeps a reserved and critical position. The radical socialist Brand has the critical attitude towards war in common with the liberal daily. The poetry published in Brand differs from that of Dagens Nyheter above all in focusing not only on the senseless suffering and the immense costs of war, but also on the question of responsibility; targeting capitalists, the monarchy and the clergy alternately.
Ingela Pehrson Berger, Aspects of Reality in Kerstin Ekman's Novel Gör mig levande igen.
In her novel Gör mig levande igen (1996), Kerstin Ekman establishes a peculiar connection between the diegeses of her own novel and of Eyvind Johnson's Krilon trilogy (1941–1943): Eyvind Johnson appears in the fictitious world of Gör mig levande igen, where he is supposed to have met Johan Krylund, one of the characters of Kerstin Ekman's novel, and taken him as a model for his own character Krilon in the Krilon trilogy. This is only one example of the intertextual and metafictional traits that permeate Kerstin Ekman's novel. Some critics have, on this basis, characterised the novel as an example of postmodernist fiction. However, intertextuality and metafiction frequently appear even in modernist literature. In Kerstin Ekman's novel as well as in Eyvind Johnsons's Krilon trilogy, these elements contribute to the great themes of the novels – which is not the case in postmodernist literature.
In this essay I claim that Gör mig levande igen is not a postmodernist but rather a modernist novel. I rely mainly on Brian McHale's distinction between, on the one hand, an epistemological dominant being characteristic for modernism and, on the other hand, an ontological dominant giving postmodernism its stamp. Modernist literature seeks knowledge of Reality, although this knowledge is hard to obtain. Postmodernist literature has lost interest in Reality in its play with the innumerable fictional worlds that may "exist".
In Kerstin Ekman's novel, the search for Reality and meaning of life are important questions addressed. I have analyzed the modernism in this novel by focusing on three kinds of reality: 1.) reality in life (life of society and life of the individual), 2.) reality in literature and 3.) what I call the "other" reality, a reality that exists beyond life and literature.
Kerstin Ekman appears as a serious humanist, deeply involved in questions concerning society and the individual existence. Reality in life is a theme that crystallizes around the main character, Oda Arpman. That old woman is Kerstin Ekman's alter ego in her fight for democratic values.
Reality in literature forms a theme mainly through Sigrid Falk, a young graduate student of literature. She has a naïve sense of literature as the expression of true life and experience. By stressing the conflicting views of the student and her supervisor, Kerstin Ekman takes her stand against the influences of postmodernism in academic studies.
The "other" reality is experienced in certain moments of epiphany. This spiritual reality is neither confirmed nor denied. Still, the mystic experience prevails and evades rational explanation. Does this spriritual reality exist or not?
The epistemological focus on the three kinds of reality bears witness to the modernism of Kerstin Ekman's novel.
Ulrik Lohm, A jovial flora from the year 1839.
This small note presents for the first time the text of a jovial flora from the year 1839. The flora is preserved in one handwritten copy. Behind the different plant species, described in a satiric and jovial form, one finds a collection of members in a small society (Aganippiska brunnssällskapet). The members met twice a month in Stockholm to discuss and present literature and music. Among the members where e.g. the swedish authors C. J. L. Almqvist and A. Blanche as well as the musician and composer Emilie Holmberg. In different memoars the society is referred to as the place where the young Stockholm met. However, like most similar meeting-places, the society only existed for two years.