Volym 128, 2007
Anna-Maria Rimm, Elsa Fougt som Kungl. boktryckare. (Elsa Fougt as Royal Printer.)
Elsa Fougt (1744–1826) was one of the most powerful figures in the Swedish book trade of her time. For nearly thirty years, she held the position of Royal Printer in the Swedish realm and accordingly ran the large and prestigious printing house Kongl. Tryckeriet. She also ran several enterprises that were attached to the printing house, including a publishing firm, a type foundry, and a bookshop that traded in foreign books.
While previous research about the late eighteenth-century book trade in Sweden has seen Elsa Fougt primarily as a passive figure, the widow of the Royal Printer Henric Fougt, this study argues that she was an active entrepreneur in her own right. Elsa Fougt worked independently for thirty years after her husband had died, and, moreover, she already worked as a married woman, although unofficially. Kongl. Tryckeriet was a typical family business in which each family member’s contribution was necessary for its survival. Elsa Fougt, being the daughter of the previous Royal Printer Peter Momma, had literally grown up in the business, and most probably received both the essential training and the network contacts that a future career in the trade required, even though, being a woman, she was not permitted apprenticeship as a printer. It is important to stress that the wives of entrepreneurs often worked in the family business. After her husband’s death, she was able to represent her companies officially, since widows were allowed by law to run businesses.
The fact that Elsa Fougt was a woman living and working in a patriarchal society does not seem to have particularly affected her role as Royal Printer. In comparison with her predecessors, her position as Royal Printer appears to have been remarkably strong. For instance, her recurrent demands to the authorities for higher financial compensation for printing and publishing official documents were accepted more often than those of her predecessors.
Elsa Fougt was a skillful business strategist who tried to consolidate her companies in many ways. Her most noteworthy tactic was to make use of her official position as Royal Printer and the prestigious trademark of Kongl. Tryckeriet for the purpose of benefiting her other, private, enterprises. Thus, it is evident that her different companies were tightly interwoven,even though the printing house Kongl. Tryckeriet held the most prominent place in her business empire.
David Gedin, Att få lov. Kvinnor och baler kring 1880-talet. (May I? Women at balls in the late Nineteenth Century.)
The ball, as central literary theme, symbol and milieu, is as old in Swedish literature as the bourgeois, realistic novel. But it is among female writers it occurs frequently, while it hardly exists among the men. The obvious reason is that in the life of an unmarried bourgeois woman, the ball was the scene and marketplace for her transformation from her old family and her role as daughter to a new one with herself as the mother.
Going to her first ball was a vital and delicate occasion. She was ”coming out”, that is, leaving the relatively secure and isolated harbour of the intimate sphere of the nuclear family, to become a public commodity on the market of match-making. Her value was a combination of her dowry, social background, looks and behaviour. This was the day of reckoning of her upbringing.
And her success did not only decide her own future, but also influenced that of her family. If she did not find a proper husband, her family would in most cases have to support her for the rest of her life. On the other hand, a good marriage could bee a great social and economical improvement for her parents, brothers and sisters. She could for example be able to take care of a less fortunate spinster sister.
Demands on appearance and behaviour of the young woman where both rigorous and paradoxical. A good wife should raise children and rule her household with a firm hand, live through pregnancy and childbirth, as well as see to her husband’s sexual needs. But to attract the attention of a man with good expectations and the financial possibility to marry, she should seem modest, controlled, innocent and attentive towards her husband’s wants. That is, to have a social and economical career, she had to appear to be without any financial considerations, and to become a mother she must seem totally ignorant of her sexuality.
It is no wonder that this dilemma required some help, and it was provided by the novels’ detailed descriptions of ideal male and female behaviour, as well as warnings of irresponsible and ruthless men and offensive female appearances, for example that of scheming or coquetry.
But though the market in the bourgeois, liberal society was far from romantic, it was at least to some extent free. Even though the stakes where high and the rules rigid, the ball represented an additional space, a period of possibilities and relative freedom. The time available was depending on the young woman’s desirability, but ought to, at the most, have lasted about ten years. From about the age of 16, 17 to about 27, 28.
By depicting this period in a young woman’s life – dealing with it at length – female authors did not only shed light on this freedom but also made the shadows of unhappy marriages or childhoods appear more distinctively.
This becomes more evident in the eighteen-eighties when the young generation of realistic writers stood up and criticized the established society. Female writers in particular described the business of courting and matchmaking at the balls without the traditional romantic glow of love and romance. In their stories it did not only appear as a short period of relative freedom but materialistic and cynical as well. Consequently the descriptions effectively worked as a severe critique against (the bourgeois) women’s situation at large.
This marked the beginning of the end of the nineteen-century balls, and both their practical and symbolic significance, in social life as well as in literature. This was that was emphasized and developed further by the next generation female writers. It becomes especially evident in the early works of Selma Lagelöf, in her unpublished epic poem ”Madame de Castro” or ”Marknadsbalen” (”The Market Ball”) written about 1885, and in ”Gösta Berlings saga” (1891). In those stories she expropriates the ball as a scene, transforming it into a stage populated by poets and artists. Matrimony, the patriarchate, social position, beauty and money are dismissed; that is, all of the central values in the construction of the hierarchy that defined the bourgeois women becomes but a petty background to the real drama of individuality, artistry and freedom. Moreover, the ball is banished to an artificial past in witch Lagerlöf is free to caricature and thereby sharply criticize the actual conditions of women. This way, she is giving life and form to the ongoing upheaval of the established order, and the banishing of the central practical and symbolical function of the balls at the threshold of the twentieth century.
Magnus Nilsson, Prometheusmotivet hos Viktor Rydberg och i den tidiga arbetarlitteraturen.(The Prometheus Motif in Viktor Rydberg’s Poetry and Early Working-Class Literature.)
This essay focuses on the Prometheus motif in Viktor Rydberg’s poetry and in early Swedish working-class literature. Many working-class writers were influenced by Rydberg. But the Prometheus motif undergoes a radical transformation when taken up in their poetry.
Whereas Rydberg’s use of the motif is firmly rooted within a bourgeois (liberal and Christian) world-view, the ‘proletarian Prometheus’ — often referred to as ‘Lucifer’ — is a symbol for atheism and revolutionary socialism. This re-definition of the Prometheus motif is a product of a sub-cultural logic that characterized the early Swedish labour movement — a logic which necessitates an almost total rejection and/or inversion of bourgeois values.
The working-class writers use the Prometheus motif to construct a proletarian, class-conscious writer identity. This is done in dialogue with hegemonic, bourgeois representations of the working class as non-respectable, which they affirm, but re-valorise. Through celebrations of and identification with Prometheus, working-class writers construct an identity based on the negation of bourgeois values. They thus recognize the status of the working class as “the Other”, in analogy with the interpretation of Prometheus as an incarnation of the negation of bourgeois, Christian ideals, yet attribute positive values to this ‘otherness’.
The fact that the ‘proletarian Prometheus’ is characterized by an affirmation of a radical negativity, above all manifested in atheism, results in an almost unbridgeable gap between Rydberg and working-class writers. And this gap corresponds to a more overriding conflict, namely, that between aesthetic idealism and modernist anti-idealism. Even if the workingclass writers weren’t programmatic or self-conscious modernists, this places them within the literary tradition that rebels against aesthetic idealism and paves the way for the emergence of modernism.
Thus the use of the Prometheus-motif in early Swedish working-class literature sheds light, not only on the relationship between this tradition and the political and social conditions in Sweden around the turn of the twentieth century, but also on its relationship to the most important currents in the literary history of that period.
Helene Blomqvist, Det monistiska problemet och de blasfemiska textstrategierna i Lagerkvists Sibyllan. (The Monistic Problem and Blasphemous Textual Strategies in Lagerkvist’s Sibyllan.)
This article discusses literary articulations of what can be named ‘the monistic problem’ — closely linked to the theodicy problem — using Pär Lagerkvist’s novel Sibyllan (The Sibyl) as an example. Sibyllan is the story of two people, who both have been ‘burnt’ by God – a male god, an almighty patriarch — and yet neither of them can let go of him. They rage and fret and cast blasphemous utterances at him but still their destinies are tied to him. To analyze this novel properly, it is necessary to consider the way in which it is constructed — not as one story, but as two parallel intradiegetic stories, bound together by a heterodiegetic voice. This makes the novel dialogical, in Bachtin’s sense of the word. Under the surface, this text conceals a question, a question that is posed twice, by the stories of the two main characters. The question can be formulated thus: What is God like, and why does he seem so unreasonable? But this novel, as Lagerkvist himself states, is also a book of passion and rage. So the question is: How on earth shall I be able to endure this life with this god? When examined closely, the god of the novel appears to have two different faces, both male: either he is the evil god, the almighty tyrant, whose avenging hand strikes man if he doesn’t obey, or he is the indifferent and exalted, the incomprehensible god who is so far from everything human that it is impossible for any of us to understand anything of what he is like. In both cases, it is evident that the world view is monistic: God is the one ruling principle of the Universe. It appears that a monistic world view (or ontology) is the prerequisite of Pär Lagerkvist’s entire religious struggle, as of the struggles of so many others. As the theologian Gustaf Aulén says, it seems as if western man is caught in a monistic way of thinking, partly due to the unhappy mistranslation of the Greek ‘pantochrator’. The concept ‘Lord God Almighty’ is not only unbiblical, but also really incomprehensible. This study demonstrates how Lagerkvist uses blasphemous literary strategies to point to the absurdity of a monistic ontology coupled with the belief in a good god and with the notion that we should submit willingly and with trust to this monarch. Is there then an alternative to this world view and this concept of God? If there is in Lagerkvist’s novel, it should be the sibyl herself, as a parallel to both the virgin Mary, the mother of God, and to Gaia, the great mother of all living things. At the end of the novel, Gaia still sits as an All-mother high up on the slopes of the divine mountain above Delphi, watching everything with her old eyes and her burnt face. As several echo-feminist thinkers say, maybe this is the god that our world needs today.
Lars Wendelius, ”Mind you, I still believe in democracy”. Samhälle och politik i Agatha Christies kriminalromaner. (Society and Politics in Agatha Christie’s Crime Novels.)
A deep distrust of man and a longing for order and stability characterize Christie’s novels. The social system is threatened by man’s desire to transgress given boundaries, above all by his utopian and idealistic dreams of a brave new world nourished by his lust for power. The opponents of these tendencies represent pragmatism, common sense, experience and traditions — virtues personified by characters like Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Christie’s books are characterized by, on the one hand, a tendency to idealize the old (Victorian and Edwardian) world and to represent the modern world as rootless and hollow, and, on the other hand, a tendency to represent the modern world as full of possibilities of self-realization for common man.
Ingeborg Löfgren, Gyllenstens radikala metafiktion. (The Radical Metafiction of Gyllensten.)
Lars Gyllensten (1921–2006) is often purported to be a role-playing author who hides behind his fictitious characters and story-tellers, never to be caught presenting his own personal views in his literary writings. Yet Gyllensten-scholars usually put great effort into finding out just how Gyllensten is to be understood in his dialectical authorship, what he wants to express with his fictitious works, and the particular roles he uses. In this article, I want to claim that there is a severe conflict within the role-concept itself: on the one hand, it is seen as a tool to separate the empirical Gyllensten from the text’s story-teller or “author”, and, on the other, it is also seen as a method used by Gyllensten to deal with his own (personal) existential, moral and epistemological concerns. In my view, it is also due to the scholars faithful application and use of Gyllensten’s theoretical vocabulary (in particular, his selfcontradictory role-concept), presented in his generous literary comments and remarks, that some of his most interesting texts have remained unacknowledged and unexplored – his radical metafiction.
This article is concerned with three tasks, carried out respectively: a theoretical examination of the concepts of fiction and metafiction, a critical survey of previous author-intentionalist Gyllensten-research, and the demonstration and analysis of five of Gyllensten’s radically metafictional texts. Among the texts I deal with in the present study – ”Not” from Moderna myter (1949), ”Not” from Det blå skeppet (1950), ”On dit” and ”Au revoir” from Desperados (1962), ”Intervju med pseudonymen ’Sören Kierkegaard’”(1963) from Nihilistiskt credo (1964) and finally Diarium spirituale. Roman om en röst (1968) – four have previously been taken as genuine commentaries by Gyllensten, and used as such. And despite the fact that the fifth, Diarium spirituale, has been to some extent recognized as a “meta-novel”, this has not prevented it from being used as an exegetical commentary as well.
This shows how difficult, not to say impossible, it is to detect the special and complex character of radical metafiction in the works of Lars Gyllensten, while staying within the framework of the role-concept. Radical metafiction consists of mutually contradictory features, the fictional and the authentic, which mix in such a way that the complete text neither can be identified as truly fictional nor as really authentic. To the author-intentionalist in search of “keys to interpretation”, these texts will always temptingly resemble pure commentary – which they are not. This will be evident when we see how the radical metafiction of Lars Gyllensten actually resists the author-intentionalist readings.