Volym 121, 2000
Nils Ekedahl, Virtue and Apotheosis: Georg Stiernhielm's Hercules from poem to drama.
In 1658, Georg Stiernhielm's Hercules, the most famous poem of Swedish Baroque literature, was published as a moralising treatise, urging young Swedish noblemen to attain virtue and honour. Eleven years later, in 1669, the poem was converted into a drama, Spel om Herculis wägewal, given at the royal court in Stockholm. Despite a number of alterations of and additions to the original text, most scholars have interpreted the dramatization as a morality play in close conformity with the poem. In this article, however, I have focused on the differences between the two versions of Stiernhielm's story of Hercules' choice between lust and virtue. The differences are traced on three levels: the social context, the rhetorical structure of the text, and its ideological message.
The social context of Hercules was the Swedish government's demand for literate and intellectually trained noblemen after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. In his poem Stiernhielm stresses the nobleman's duty to society, and declares that virtue and honour is to be attained only by studies and hard work in the administration of the new Baltic empire. The context of the dramatization was the political propaganda of the royal dynasty during the minority of Charles XI. The results of his studies had been discomforting, and at the Diet in 1668 the government's managing of the education of the future king was brought up for debate. This makes it likely that the purpose of the stage production of Spel om Herculis wägewal was to confirm the ability of the young prince to reign the country.
According to their rhetorical structure, the two versions of the story about Hercules' choice belong to two different genres. Hercules is a clearly deliberative text, consisting mainly of a pro et contra-argumentation between Lady Lust and Lady Virtue, whereas the dramatization is written in close accordance with the classical rules for epideictic oratory and represents Hercules as a moral example. While Stiernhielm's original poem belongs to the genus deliberativum of classical rhetoric, Spel om Herculis wägewal belongs to genus demonstrativum.
The two versions differ finally in their ideological message. In an important article, Sven Delblanc has argued that the protagonist of Hercules is intended as a vir magnanimus or impersonation of virtus heroica, the Aristotelian concept of heroic virtue. In my opinion, there is, however, no satisfying evidence of this in the actual poem, which gives only a brief sketch of Hercules' character. In the dramatization, on the other hand, the protagonist is distinctly depicted as a vir magnanimus. He is also explicitly identified with the Swedish prince, which emphasizes the dynastical purpose of the stage production. In Spel om Herculis wägewal Stiernhielm's didactic poem thus has been transformed into a political spectacle.
Henrik Gustafsson, Harmonins teater: Kring Bellmans Det lyckliga skeppsbrottet.
The essay concerns an early play by the Swedish poet-musician Carl Michael Bellman (1740-95), entitled "Det lyckliga skeppsbrottet" or "The Fortunate Shipwreck". Bellman appended his chosen form as a subtitle: an opéra comique in four acts, to be staged on November 30, 1766. The latter clue, along with an explicit address to a certain "Anders" toward the end of the play, both indicate that it was intended as a name-day tribute to Bellman's employer and prime patron during the 1760s, Anders Lissander.
The plot's simple structure—an enslaved and later shipwrecked shepherd finding his way home to his grieving nymph, she being troubled during the interim by a group of suitor swains—has led most commentators to dismiss "The Fortunate Shipwreck" as feebly conventional.
My own analysis explores the play as an intricate exponent of the pastoral mode. I see Bellman as being aware of the demands of outward conventionality, while also taking the opportunity to render mild countercurrents to the mainstream. I argue for a metacritical strain in the text, manifesting itself in the way the characters' social identities are toned down or disguised; in the clashes between rhetorically ornate and simple language; and in the subtle questioning of the maxim—virtuous love ultimately brings monogamous bliss, despite all obstacles—underlying the play.
While Bellman would in time put the pastoral to much harder tests, perhaps above all in "Bacchi Tempel" (1783) and "Fredman's Epistles" (1790), the present paper argues that "The Fortunate Shipwreck" displays Bellman's early mastery of the various themes inherent to the mode proper. Attempting to elucidate these issues, I have eclectically drawn from the pastoral theories of Alpers, Empson, Fowler, Poggioli and Williams.
Marie Jacobsson, The Transformations of Memory: A Study of the Autobiography of Verner von Heidenstam, När kastanjerna blommade.
This essay on the autobiography of Verner von Heidenstam, När kastanjerna blommade (1941), consists of two parts. Firstly, it is a study of the genesis of the work, based on the manuscript, letters, and the books of Kate Bang. Secondly, it is an analysis of När kastanjerna blommade as belonging to the autobiographical genre. Important issues are the relation between historical truth and Wction in the work, the question of guilt and the representation of the self.
Sven Arne Bergmann, "The Good Old Days": a poem about silence.
Fröding's "Den gamla goda tiden" (The Good Old Days) has long attracted critical attention as the most successful of his "political poems". Presented as an 18th-century story of a foundry proprietor's brutality towards his workers, it was hesitatingly received in 1894 as a subversive statement by a member of the ruling class. Later adopted as a Socialist classic, Dggt survives today mainly on the merits of its poetical craftsmanship.
In this paper, the author argues that the relevance of Dggt is less dependent on a sense of Socialist commitment than has been commonly accepted. If its theme is understood less in terms of collective solidarity than of individual conscience, an intrinsic structural polarity emerges revealing an ironic strategy of unsuspected subtlety. To make his reading persuasive the author enlists the support of critics and theorists like Burke, Lotman, and Riffaterre. By way of preparation, some formative principles are considered: allegory vs. realism, metaphor vs. metonymy. On the assumption that Fröding tends towards realism and metonymy in this poem, his use of nostalgic presuppositions and romantic metaphors acquires special interest as poetic strategies of irony.
Starting from a close study in Lotman's terms of how contrasting rhythms and onomatopoeia create a metonymic basis for imaginative participation in the drudgery of cruelly exploited foundry workers, the author goes on to an examination of the poem as "symbolic action" (Burke). This leads to the conclusion that the "scene" remains empty, since there is no "agent" present to accept responsibility. A Riffaterrian search for the poem's matrix is started from a "model" extracted from the introductory imagery of the silent, starry sky and the sleeping forest in the background. By way of a deconstruction of the alleged "silence" of the ill-treated workers, the search arrives at indifference as the key concept of the poem.
The title, long recognised as an ironic statement of nostalgia, was added as an afterthought. Yet, on closer inspection, both the initial and the final stanzas can be shown to contain ironic elements in the form of concealed references and an anonymous quotation voicing the views of a society totally lacking in compassion. By this means, the poet, far from openly distancing himself from his forefathers or his contemporaries in the manner of the political battle song, challenges the reader to enter the vacant position of "agent" in the "symbolic action" of the poem.
David Anthin, Bohuslän as a Literary Meeting Place: The Transformation of a Physical Landscape into a Literary One in Evert Taube's "Inbjudan till Bohuslän".
The essay discusses Evert Taube's poem "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" ("Invitation to Bohuslän") from the collection Ballader i Bohuslän (Ballads from Bohuslän) of 1943. My purpose is to place the poem in a specific tradition by way of a thematic analysis, while biographical aspects are also considered where relevant. "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" is read as a metapoetical treatise, in which a dialogue with broad poetic traditions is established. Taube proposes to give the province of Bohuslän on the Swedish west coast a new literary guise. Male Viking-heroism gives way to a feminine and maternal ideal. At the same time a childhood landscape is newly presented to Rönnerdahl as poet, according to the literary ideals he—as the invited guest—himself harbours and champions.
First and foremost, I argue that the poem's dialogue is characterized by an affnity with literary traditions. Further, Taube's own, biographically verifiable experiences are shown to underlie the text, although they have successively been toned down or symbolically reshaped during the many drafts of the poem.
Taube stresses the idyllic aspects of Bohuslän. He showcases a cultivated and sheltered landscape in a way similar to the previous, 1890s generation of Swedish authors: Selma Lagerlöf, Verner von Heidenstam, and Erik Axel Karlfeldt. Thus Taube also turns his back on a dominant aesthetic of the Swedish 1880s, with its emphasis on a harsh and deterministic coastal environment. At length this Taubian critique of the 1880s transforms into a criticism also of Modernism.
Taube further conducts a dialogue with the pastoral poetry of antiquity. The essay proposes that the poet is influenced by a pastoral mode in "Inbjudan till Bohuslän". Paul Alpers' research into the nature of pastoral provides the prime structure for this section. Alpers reasons that the pastoral speaker lacks the strength to control the conditions of his or her world, and only governs in the realm of song. The pastoral process (as originally identified by William Empson) also reflects a movement from the complex to the simple, and Alpers shows how this works in Wordsworth's poem "The Solitary Reaper" (1807). Here the Romantic poet hears a rustic girl's working ditty and wishes to experience a pastoral transformation. In "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" the poet's urge to Rönnerdahl is much the same, as Wordsworth's singing girl has a sister also in the landscape of Bohuslän. Her name is Karin Johansson, and she is meant to give voice to Rönnerdahl's ballads.
"Inbjudan till Bohuslän" also recalls Horace and his prizing of seclusion. A study of several drafts of the poem (in the Evert Taube archives, Gothenburg University Library) shows that this classic influence is successively muted. On a deeper thematic and modal level, however, a proximity to Horace remains striking.
With Mikhail Bakhtin one may further conclude that an idyllic chronotope pervades Taube's poem. A cyclic chronology is hailed in the landscape of peaceful dales among rocky hills and cliffs. By the same token there is no evidence of a sentimental yearning for a lost landscape—the one evoked is constantly at hand, and also available for the future. The idyll in "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" can therefore be described as progressive.
The poem has a darker streak in a theme of mortality. The poet, however, finds solace in a dialogue with Shakespeare and Horace, who give promises of eternal life for poetry: Ars longa, vita brevis.
Torsten Pettersson, The Patience of Eternities: The Self, the World, and God in the Poetry of Hjalmar Gullberg.
This phenomenologically inspired study of the Swedish poet Hjalmar Gullberg (1898–1961) argues that beneath the eclectic multiplicity of his motifs—embodying elements of Christianity, Graeco-Roman antiquity, and Hinduism—a coherent representation of a structure of consciousness can be discerned. It is characterized by a distinct differentiation between the self, the world, and God, as well as an effort to overcome the differentiation and achieve greater unity between these poles. This takes the form of three strategies: obliteration of the self, of the world, and of God, respectively. Their manifestations are first analysed in Gullberg's early work, seven collections of poetry published from 1927 to 1942.
Gullberg's last three collections published from 1952 to 1959 have generally been considered to differ considerably from his early work by abandoning its stance of—albeit qualified—belief in God. By contrast, this study seeks to demonstrate that the report of God's death in the later Gullberg is an exaggeration, even though God's gradual retreat from the human sphere can be observed. While some of its elements are exchanged or modified, the basic representation of consciousness in Gullberg's early work thus remains intact in his later period.
Karin Nykvist, Meeting Sapfo – the now of tradition in two poetological poems by Jesper Svenbro.
The essay—"Meeting Sapfo"—shows in what ways the poetry of Jesper Svenbro invokes and manifests the presence of the earliest Western literary tradition. A central part of Svenbro's poetics is based on a method of scholarly rereading and personal, interpretative rewriting of the Greek classics. The concept of the meeting turns out to be a fundamental topos in his poetry, giving a locus and a scene for the coexistence and conWguration of different times, places, persons, texts, and cultures. Two poems are here considered in detail as poetological guidelines to Jesper Svenbro's regeneration of ancient Greek poetry: "Poikilóthronos Sapfo" and "Illumination".