Volym 131, 2010
Lars Gustafsson, Klassicism och statsintresse. Stilutveckling och statlig språk- och litteraturpolitik i 1600-talets Sverige (Classicism and governmental concern. Stylistic development and governmental linguistic and literary policy in 17th Century Sweden)
This study discusses the development of linguistic and literary classicism in the Swedish 17th century. The classicist tendency is seen in connection with governmental and ecclesiastical linguistic concerns: the classicist demand for linguistic simplicity and clarity, perspicuitas (as opposed to the baroque predilection for ornamentation, ornatus) complied with the authorities’ demands on language and literature as an effective means of public communication. Stylistic ideals, rooted in traditional rhetorical and poetological doctrine, hence came to perform a political function, something which probably was of greater significance for the development of 17th Century Swedish classicism, than the influence of its French counterpart.
An important agent in the development of a functional and easily accessible language was the Royal Chancellery. The chancellery was the designated authority as far as official linguistic policy was concerned. In Queen Christina’s view the chancellery was in this respect to perform duties similar to those of the French Academy.
Petrus Lagerlöf (1648–1699), professor of eloquence at Uppsala University, functioned during the 1690-s by appointment by the chancellery, as a stylistic and linguistic critic. In this capacity he scrutinized Haquin Spegel’s (1645–1714) biblical epic Thet öpna Paradis (“The opened Paradise”) upon royal demand. In this assignment Lagerlöf (much like Spegel himself ) pushed for a classicist ideal, not least in his stylistic concerns, where he demanded a clear separation between the sublime, the mediocre and the low style. The government’s concern with Spegel’s poem and its linguistic form is likely to be explained by its perceived politico-religious importance as a didactic, religious text.
Olof Hermelin (1658–1709) became known as a Latin poet in the style of the baroque. During his career in the chancellery in the early 18th Century, he however came to orientate himself towards a more classicist position. In the present study this tendency towards stylistic reorientation is seen in connection with his function as royal propagandist during the military campaigns of King Charles XII.
At the end of the 17th Century a classicist tendency can hence be perceived in public linguistic concern, as well as in Swedish Latin poetry. This tendency however does not directly challenge the stylistic ideals of the literary baroque. Rather classicist and baroque traits coexist, but they perform different functions within the literary realm. Whereas the baroque style continues to dominate for instance the panegyric genres, classicist style, with its demand for perspicuitas, comes to the forefront where governmental and ecclesiastical interests require a clear and easily accessible linguistic form.
Ann Öhrberg, ”Fasa för all flärd, konstlan och förställning”. Den ideala retorn inom 1700-talets nya offentlighet (“Shy all vanity, art and dissimulation”. The ideal rhetor in the new public sphere of the 18th century)
In this essay Swedish cultures of politeness during the other half of the eighteenth century are explored with focus on rhetoric and gender. The dethronement of classical rhetoric in the eighteenth century has been associated with the formation of the public sphere and the communicative needs of the rising middle class. Cultures of politeness were crucial for this process. The point of departure in the essay is the ideological tension between classical civic rhetoric on the one hand and cultures of politeness on the other. The latter are found to be associated with ideals of femininity, and thus gendered in contrast to a classical rhetoric tradition. Materials are fetched from Sweden’s most influential learned societies: Tankebyggarorden, Utile Dulci, Apollini Sacra, Sällskapet Aurora, and Göteborgs Vetenskaps- och Vitterhets-Samhälle. The questions at hand are: Who were considered a suitable rhetor in the societies? What was seen as ideal eloquence and rhetoric? Analyses of speeches demonstrate how notions on ideal eloquence are intertwined with conceptions on national splendour and gender. The ideal rhetor combines naturalness and candid manliness with sensibility and the ability to tender friendship with other men. The rhetoric he uses harmonises with these characteristics. Elderly ideals of classical rhetoric are rejected, but yet sometimes used in practice.
Only 26 women were accepted as members in the societies under discussion. Three main reasons for their participation are identified. Firstly social grounds: women in early modern Sweden from the higher social strata were expected to appear in public. Secondly women were elected for patriotic reasons. Thirdly certain female qualities (sociability and sensibility) where seen as essential for the societies. Despite an originally positive attitude towards qualities being branded as feminine, women were gradually being marginalised and towards the end of the century the male rhetor alone occupies this public scene as well.
Henrik Wallheim, Intrigteknik och läsarintresse i 1700-talets svenska fiktionsprosa. Exemplet Erik Erland Ullmans Den Swenska Fröken (Plot and Reader Interest in 18th-Century Swedish Prose Fiction. The Example of Erik Erland Ullman’s Den Swenska Fröken)
This essay discusses an example of 18th-century Swedish prose fiction – Erik Erland Ullman's (1749–1821) Den Swenska Fröken (1780; ”The Swedish Miss”) – in order to specify questions and methodical outlines for a continued study of the Swedish novel of the time. The focus is on the construction of the plot, and on the related question of how the author tries to arouse and sustain the interest of the reader.
The analysis shows that Ullman's story is not constructed around a continuous plotline connecting the beginning with the end, but around a series of essentially unrelated events which occur in the life of the principal character – a narrative structure which strikingly differs from the currently common opinion that a novel ought to have a ”well-made” plot. However, the principal audience for this kind of story appears to have considered a large number of sensational events to be of greater importance than the stringing together of these into a ”well-made” plot – a taste which is discussed in relation to the changing social make-up of the reading audience.
Harald Graf, ”Kung och bonde äro bröder”. Schillers tidigaste reception i Sverige (1790–1794) (“King and peasant are brothers”. The earliest reception of Schiller in Sweden (1790–1794)
According to the common view of the Swedish reception of Schiller his greatest influence was on Swedish Romanticism and thus he has often been portrayed as a predecessor of the Swedish Romantics: Schiller’s influence on this literary period, especially after 1809, has therefore been examined quite thoroughly. However, very little interest has been taken in the beginning of the reception of Schiller in Sweden. It has been considered very strange that Carl Gustaf af Leopold, this Enlightenment-writer and “royal secretary” as he has been called very condescendingly, was the first Swedish recipient of Schiller, regarded as the forerunner of Romanticism.
This essay deals with the very first beginning of Schiller’s reception during the years 1790– 1794, which essentially has been neglected in the Swedish literary history. New research shows that the main emphasis of the Swedish reception of Schiller is on the 1790’s and not on the period after 1809. The main focus is thereby not on the Romantic era but on the Enlightenment. The Swedish Enlightenment has, if its existence has not been totally denied, usually been connected with French models. This view needs to be modified, and this essay will hopefully contribute to such a modification.
As a matter of fact, the reception of Schiller in Sweden does not start with Leopold at all but with the ordinary readers of that period. Schiller titles can be found from the beginning of the 1790’s in the commercial circulating libraries, where Schiller appears to have been a popular writer. The very first title by Schiller, Don Carlos, had already been catalogued in Friedrich August Cleve’s circulating library in Stockholm in 1790. Cleve increased his collection every year, which means that his library 1793 could offer almost all Schiller’s works published up to that year.
Only a few months after the murder of King Gustav III the first translations and publications of Schiller’s works in Swedish started in Sweden. After the King’s death there was a liberalisation of the press and censorship and several newspapers appeared with a Jacobin freedom of speech, something totally new in Sweden. The “Rabulists”, as I chose to call these “grub street writers”, were opposed to the so called Gustavians Kellgren and Leopold. The controversy between these two groups was about politics, religion, aesthetics and ethics. The main difference between the Rabulists (as far as it affects the Schiller-reception) and the Gustavians was not just that the latter were established, something the former strived to become, but the fact, that the rabulists regarded themselves as the true representatives of the Enlightenment. The Gustavian form of Enlightenment was considered a materialistic and hedonistic semi-enlightenment, neglecting the “heart”, one of Schiller’s key-words. In two of these newspapers several translations of Schiller’s works were printed, mostly without reference to Schiller.
The most remarkable is not that the reception of Schiller’s works could be put in a much earlier context but into another non-romantic context and that it took place first amongst the middle classes and then amongst the upper echelons of society: from the popular commercial circulating libraries to the Rabulists, and from them to the Gustavians. Schiller was received within a radical Enlightenment; which was partly defined in opposition to the French-inspired and materialistic ideals represented by Kellgren and Leopold. It was thus only after Schiller’s works had been in Cleve’s catalogue in his circulating library, and after the Rabulists had published several of Schiller’s texts that in 1793 Leopold started to devote himself to the translation of some of Schiller’s poems.
In Sweden in 1793 Schiller was probably considered to be the most prominent contemporary German writer; a new star on the literary sky. And apparently many looked forward to his new publications. Leopold had by no means “misinterpreted” these poems in his translations: on the contrary his changes presented a brilliant control of both the form and the content of the poems. Leopold’s translation is not at all “strange”: An die Freude and Resignation are written in the Spirit of the Enlightenment and deal with theological problems being discussed during this period, and are written by a poet who himself had his roots in the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Claes Ahlund, Elias Sehlstedt – en borgerlig modernitetsförnekare (Elias Sehlstedt: a bourgeois denier of modernity)
The essay focuses on the poetry of Elias Sehlstedt (1808–1874) and its relation to modernity. In his own lifetime, Sehlstedt was a widely read poet, much appreciated for his sense of humour and his witty travesties of poets such as Bellman, Franzén, Lenngren, Wallin and Tegnér. During the 20th century, Sehlstedt was dismissed as a poet of bourgeois contentment, and fell into oblivion. Nevertheless, his poetry offers an advantageous starting-point for a discussion of nineteenth century bourgeois mentalities. The object of the essay is to relate this aspect of Sehlstedt’s work not only to the private sphere of the middle class, but also to the market and to the political sphere.
Theoretically, the essay relates to Matei Calinescu’s discussion of the antagonistic relation between the bourgeois idea of modernity and the aesthetic one, to Victor Svanberg’s discussion of Swedish middle-class realism, and to the concept of the structural transformation of the public sphere developed by Jürgen Habermas.
In his poetry, Sehlstedt praises the modest yet comfortable life of the middle-class. He pays tribute to family values and to jovial social life. In both cases, his outlook is strikingly narrow. The current rapid transformation of the Swedish society through industrialization, urbanization and technological progress is made invisible, and can only be perceived indirectly. In addition to the general escapist tendency, the theme of financial worries is an example of this. Sehlstedt’s use of comic punch-lines often serves the same escapist purpose; smoothly obscuring modernity by means of laughter. To the modern reader, they nevertheless point out the very threats of modernity they were supposed to veil.
Mattias Aronsson, ”Ja, denna stig är stigarnas stig”. Taoistiska influenser i Vilhelm Ekelunds verk (“Yes, this path is the path of paths”. Taoist influence in the works of Vilhelm Ekelund)
In this article I show how Taoist philosophy has influenced the Swedish poet, essayist and aphorist Vilhelm Ekelund. I note that the author mentions the Taoist philosophers Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu and discusses their ideas on a couple of occasions in his later works (Atticism – Humanism, 1943; Plus salis–, 1945). Examples of such explicit influence can also be found in Ekelund’s private notebooks, posthumously published in two volumes: Hemkomst och flykt (1972) and Ur en scholaris’ verkstad (1974). I argue that Taoist philosophy implicitly influenced the Swedish author as early as the second part of the 1910’s – when he started to emphasize such principles as moderation, composure, dispassion and non-desire in his writing. I also discuss other important ideals which Ekelund shared with the Taoist philosophers, such as poverty, humility, simplicity and dishonour. Finally, I see a parallel in the anti-intellectual aspects of Taoist thinking and Ekelund’s use of the term misologi (misology), a word which often has positive connotations in his works. In Ekelund’s prose, as well as in the famous Taoist text Tao Te Ching, excessive intellectualism is frequently criticized.
Skans Kersti Nilsson, Göran Tunströms Försök med ett århundrade – ett avsked till konsten (Göran Tunströms Försök med ett århundrade (Attempt with a century) — a goodbye to art)
In his posthumous book, Försök med ett århundrade (2003), Göran Tunström (1937–2000) tries to understand the rise of the modern self in the 17th century, in comparascense with the late 20th century. The aim of this study is to analyze this book in view of the ageing author’s perspective. In my opinion, retrospecting the 17th century is for Tunström, while writing his book, an attempt to sum up his life as an author from the outside.
Creativity and the relationship of the self to the divided world is a central theme in Tunström’s authorship. The blank space, or the threshold, plays an important role in the divestment of creativity. On this very spot, central spatial memories from childhood are activated.
Försök med ett århundrade tries the code of the novel, but also the codes of essay and allegory as well as the exposition of self. The book consists of stories, fragments of texts, and poetically tense passages and pictures. The amount of repetition is noticeable. In this essay Försök med ett århundrade is here read as an allegory in Benjamin’s sense.
Searching for the self is comparable to awakening and rebirth in Tunström’s authorship. In Försök med ett århundarde he tries to repeat this searching for the self a last time. The project, however, comes across as problematic, as the childhood memories from his birth house, Tunström’s creative well, seem to have drained.
Jerry Määttä, Pengar, prestige, publicitet. Litterära priser och utmärkelser i Sverige 1786–2009 (Pay, Prestige, Publicity: Literary Prizes and Awards in Sweden, 1786–2009)
The aim of this study is to discuss and analyse the functions, rise and growth of modern literary and cultural prizes and awards in Sweden, mainly through an extensive mapping of contemporary prizes and awards. After a brief discussion of earlier research and the manifold symbolic and economic functions of literary and cultural prizes and awards, the study deals with this data (accounted for in the tables in the appendices) by analysing factors such as when and by whom the prizes and awards have been founded, what their prize moneys have amounted to, what their respective impact in the media has been (gauged by searches in the newspaper and media databases Presstext and retriever), and which prizes and awards can be considered to be the most influential within the contemporary Swedish national literary field.
The study is mainly focused on Swedish and pan-Nordic literary and cultural prizes which can be awarded to authors writing fiction and poetry in Swedish for an adult readership (which means that prizes and awards for children’s and young-adult fiction, non-fiction, translations, criticism, etc. are excluded, as is the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is nowadays very seldom awarded to Swedish authors).
The total number of such prizes and awards found is 138, of which almost two thirds have been established since 1980, and about 90 percent since the end of the Second World War (the oldest such prize was established by the Swedish Academy in 1786). The total sum of the prize money awarded in 2009 was more than 6.4 million SeK (roughly 920.000 USD or 585.000 GBP), and almost a quarter of the prizes and awards that year had a prize sum of at least 100.000 SeK each (roughly 14.000 USD or 9.000 GBP). Some of the tendencies observed and discussed are that 44 percent of the prizes and awards have been established by literary academies and associations, and 27 percent by agents connected to the book and media markets; that the last decade (since 1999) has seen an heretofore incomparable discontinuation of prizes and awards (24 of the 138 prizes and awards in the study), and that half of these prizes had also been established during the last decade, mainly by commercial interests; that the sum of the prize money seems to have a larger influence on impact in the media than the age of the prize or award; that prizes and awards established by agents with a strong connection to the book market or with access to their own media channels (such as newspapers, magazines and radio channels) often have an advantage when it comes to having a large impact in the media, as do some of the prizes awarded for literary debuts, and — it would seem — prizes named after canonical and popular Swedish authors.
The study concludes with a discussion of the most significant factors when it comes to gauging the cultural prestige of the prizes and awards, and a presentation of a tentative list of the roughly 30 Swedish and pan-Nordic literary and cultural prizes and awards which might be considered the most influential.
Philip Halldén, Jihad, retorik och poesi i digitaliseringens tidsålder. Estetiska dimensioner i alQa‘idas kulturkamp (Jihad, Rhetoric and Poetry in the Age of Digitalization: Aesthetic Dimensions in the Struggle of al-Qa‘ida)
In this essay I aim to show how the struggle of the Salafi-Jihadist movement (“al-Qa‘ida”) has been pursued not only by military means, physical violence and terrorist attacks, but also by cultural, intellectual and aesthetic interventions. This battle has been directed against rival cultural and intellectual tendencies in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim societies whose political and cultural elites are often perceived by the jihadists to be “apostates” or at least contaminated by “un-Islamic” influences. Forms and genres of expression are important issues in this context. The use of classical Arabic and archaic genres of eloquence, rhetoric and poetry here constitutes part of a polemical stance against rival currents. The essay provides an insight into the cultural values cherished by representatives of al-Qa‘ida and what they believe they are up against in this particular field of contest. It involves the question of what kind of poetry and rhetoric appeals to militant Islamists. This is an issue which has been largely neglected. The academic study of Islamist movements has been dominated by political science or sociological approaches, in which aesthetic dimensions tend to be overlooked, while humanities-oriented studies of Arabic literature, rhetoric and poetry tend to focus on quite different trends and more “benign” currents of literature. However, as I try to demonstrate in my essay, the subculture of Salafi-Jihadism is in a sense a truly poetical and rhetorical one, and by paying attention to this dimension we may reach a more complex understanding of the phenomenon.
In addition, I discuss a theoretical contradiction inherent in the use of “new media” for conveying seemingly archaic forms and messages. While Salafi-Jihadists show a passion for classical Arabic and traditional genres of rhetoric and poetry, as well as pretending to be the sole upholders of the pristine and “true” Islam of the so-called “pious ancestors” (al-salaf al-salih), they are utilizing digital audio and other kinds of “new media” to convey their message on the Internet. This reveals a certain ambiguity or even ambivalence, although it may not always be consciously expressed as such. It is also, metaphorically speaking, an issue which can be approached in terms of different aspects of “mnemotechnology” as expressions modeled on the Qur‘an and other sources of Islam (previously stored in biological memories) are being reproduced in new contexts, as for instance when a speech crammed by quotations from the Qur‘an and traditional poetry is recorded, published and then in turn preserved on hard drives, tape recorders and other storage media. The use of new media enhances the reach of communication, but this enhancement comes at a price. Listening to a remixed sermon in mp3 format, accompanied by Flash animations on a computer screen is not the same thing as taking part, for instance, in the communal and ritual event of a Friday sermon in the mosque. While the contents and style may seem traditional or archaic, the very formats of mediation and publication are new phenomena in history.