Volym 129, 2008
Mia Anneli Lengborg, Pengar, dygd, vänskap. Georg Stiernhielms Idyllion Anacreonticum. (Money, Virtue, Friendship. Georg Stiernhielm’s Idyllion Anacreonticum.)
The present study offers a comprehensive analysis of Georg Stiernhielm’s Idyllion Anacreonticum, its style, literary context and immediate reception. This anacreontic poem, dedicated to two men described as true friends tried in need, consists of a dialogue between the characters Orestes and Menalcas on the subject of how best to achieve and keep friends: through virtue or money. The poem was written in the aftermath of a most trying time for Stiernhielm, and the circumstances preceding the creation of Idyllion are analysed, drawing parallels between the poem’s style and characters and its author and original recipients. New light is thus shed on the elaborateness of Stiernhielm’s composition, with its levels of interplay between historical context and literary form.
Idyllion’s underlying theme of choice between virtue and worldliness also has its counterpart in an intricate structure of chiastic, parallelistic and antithetic stylistic elements. On the surface, the form, metre and stylistic devices employed in Idyllion indicate skilful but conventional craft. In this poem, however, Stiernhielm offers innovative and poignant use of his own linguistic theories. Drawing on ideas from Plato’s Kratylos, he elaborates on the intrinsic meaning of sounds; thus important passages of the poem are stressed by accentuated usage of certain letters and phonemes. The play with hidden meanings is continued in the naming of the poem’s interlocutors, names which may have personal, political and also philosophical connotations. In addition to the interlocutors Orestes and Menalcas, the poem’s allegorical characters, the goddesses Minerva and Juno Moneta, are analysed.
Stiernhielm’s definition of friendship is further discussed, as well as his presentation of the virtues necessary to obtain and maintain friendship. The analysis shows how these aspects of his ethics are expressed in Idyllion, and also how closely interconnected the poem is with the codes of behaviour expressed in Hercules and elsewhere in Stiernhielm’s works. The deeper significance of Idyllion can also be traced to Stiernhielm’s general philosophical programme. There is, as it were, an ongoing dialogue not only between the characters in Idyllion, but also between Idyllion and other works by its author. Through skilful and elaborate composition Stiernhielm thus manages to blend sincerity and satire and to provide an in all respects meaningful whole.
Paula Henrikson, Klassiskt och modernt. Hermeneutik, filologi och Altertumswissenschaft omkring år 1800. (Classical and Modern. Hermeneutics, Philology and Altertumswissenschaft around 1800.)
The term Altertumswissenschaft designates the attempt around 1800 to fashion a classical discipline combining the views on Antiquity as an historical epoch, on the one hand, and the conveyor of eternal aesthetic and moral values, on the other. The subject of this article is the period in history when classical philology in the shape of Altertumswissenschaft developed a detailed theory of the affinity between philology and hermeneutics, while at the same time a new discipline, devoted to vernacular literature and philology, arose and laid the foundations for the scholarly investigation of modern literature. The primary objective of the article is historical, namely to demonstrate in what way the idea of a national classicity was theorised against the background of classical philology. Another objective is to let this historical perspective reinforce the critique in the last three decades of, on the one hand, a textual criticism which has ridded itself of hermeneutical methods, and a literary scholarship which has become detached from the consciousness of matter and medium upheld by textual criticism, on the other.
The first part of the article treats the development of classical philology and its theory, as expressed by the leading figures Christian Gottlob Heyne, Friedrich August Wolf and Friedrich Ast. Friedrich Schlegel’s ideas of a ‘philosophy of philology’ are also discussed. In this way the historical shape of hermeneutics as fully integrated in, and even fundamental for, philology is outlined. The second part is an outlook on the Swedish situation during the decades around 1800, examining the notion of a national classicity and the establishment of national professorships in belles lettres and aesthetics. The two parts illustrate the transposition and expansion of the notion of classicity, from classical philology, as it mainly resided in Germany, to vernacular philology, in which the term ‘classical’ begins to denote a national normativity. Two issues recur in the discussion: (1) the idea of the importance of historical distance, and (2) the notion of Antiquity as unique, unsurpassed and eternally normative. The article demonstrates how the changing views on these issues paved the way for the development of modern philology and how the integration of hermeneutics and philology was fundamental in this process.
Stina Otterberg, När Tommelise for utomlands. Om svalans betydelser i H.C. Andersens eventyr. (When Tommelise went abroad. On the significance of the swallow in the H.C. Andersen story.)
This essay aims to deepen our understanding of Tommelise (Thumbelina) and the swallow as characters by proposing a new mode of reading the story.
To begin with, the complexity in the social machinery that generates the plot is stressed, as well as the fact that the characters all depend upon each other. The article demonstrates the key role played by the swallow — both as saviour and as helpless creature. What has been considered a quality of androgynity in Tommelise’s character is here understood rather as an attribute of the swallow. It is exactly this ambiguity of gender in the swallow that not only characterizes the bird itself but creates effects on other characters and, in a fundamental way, authorizes and demands a more precise way of reading the story.
Historically, the swallow has been considered female. In languages that lack neutral forms of the pronoun, the swallow is always feminine (cf. French “l’hirondelle”, Italian “la rondine”). In ancient Greek, swallow or chelidôn designates the female sex. This duly noted, it is all the more remarkable that the swallow in H. C. Andersen’s Tommelise is thoroughly neutral, always called either “svalan” (“the swallow”) or “den” (“it”).
In a passage called “Lost in translation”, eigtheen translations into Swedish are analysed focusing on the swallow. The material is representative over time and covers 170 years of Swedish versions of this story. The survey shows that most translations do not retain the authorially sanctioned neutrality of gender, which is the case in thirteen of the texts, allowing the swallow to be neutral in only five editions. Instead, the bird is rendered either female (three translations), male (five) or both (five). Independently of the original text, the swallow’s neutral gender has thus been silently determined.
The essay then turns to the swallow’s symbolic dimensions in cultural and natural history. In Antiquity the swallow was considered a sacred bird. In Christianity it symbolizes both Our Lady and Christ. It is argued that the sanctity of the bird makes its earthly chambers into a holy grave, and consequently the mole’s violence on its dead body a mortal sin. The swallow’s hibernative dwelling under ground is then associated with another context, namely the ancient but at the time of the story’s first publication still widely held belief that swallows spend the winter sleeping in the ground or on the bottom of lakes. Even Carolus Linnæus believed this to be a fact, although it had been known by men and women of learning for centuries that swallows actually migrate. It is pointed out how H. C. Andersen combines a scientific code with folklore traditions in the particular passage which focuses on how swallows endure wintertime. The opening of the swallow’s eyes by Tommelise’s magic kiss is also interpreted both in light of religious symbolism and popular imagination; in Christianity the healing of blindness is a metaphor for salvation, whereas folk-lore traditions hold that swallows which have lost their eyesight always have the ability to regain it. This produces an absolute contrast between the seeing swallow and the blind mole, where the latter will never be able to (re)claim a sight that he indeed has never possessed, and therefore — as opposed to the swallow — he will never be able to see in the way romantic poets do.
The article then draws attention to the swallow as messenger. In literary as well as religious sources the swallow is portrayed as an agent that brings good tidings or warns of ominous machinations and evil doings. This is also how it acts in a tale by August Strindberg, “När träsvalan kom i getapeln,” which is held forward as an important intertext to Andersen’s Tommelise, a connection that has hitherto not been noted. In Virgil, the swallow is called “garrula” (“loquacious”), and this is also how it comes forward in Tommelise. Here, its chirping contrasts against the other animal sound in the story, namely the frog’s incomprehensible “koax! koax! brekkekekex!”, and has a meaning that can be understood. It is rightly conceived only by the story’s chosen ones, namely the two characters that correspond symbolically to the swallow — Tommelise herself and the man who tells fairy tales. The message of the swallow is “quivit!” in the Danish original, which in French reads “qui vit” or “who lives?”. But as Andersen attaches no question mark, it is argued we read it as “(s)he who lives” or “who lives” in order to form at once both a statement and an imperative. The force of the utterance lies in its being unfinished — it calls for the completion by a principal sentence and by the actions it generates. It is here suggested that the message be considered a magic spell of performative dimensions: it dissolves the scheming against Tommelise on behalf of the field mouse and the mole and gives her the courage to break the rules and join the swallow in escape. The message is then understood to be threefold — it gives Tommelise the choice of life, it prompts the man who tells fairy tales to write the story down, and finally it calls upon the story itself to live on and thereby give eternal life to its author.
During the swallow’s and Tommelise’s flight to the south, Tommelise’s sash (in Swedish “skärp”) plays an important role as she uses it to fasten herself directly to the bird’s body. It is pointed out how the translations miss the symbolism in the Danish “Livbaand” which literally means “tie of life”, and it is argued that it should be read also as ”umbilical cord” in the context of this particular story. The hebrew word for swallow, “deror”, means “to release” — and indeed the deliverance to the fair land also becomes a conduit for Tommelise into her new life where she is given a new name. The fact that she does not choose her own name reveals a social system where the individual both affects and is affected by his/her fellow citizens — although certainly this new world seems more promising for Tommelise than her former dwellings.
The essay draws two major conclusions from its analyses. Firstly, it is pointed out that the Tommelise- character is more dynamic than she has been considered to be in earlier readings of the story. The story depicts an interaction between her and the other characters.
Secondly, it is questioned whether Tommelise’s escape really amounts to striving toward asexuality. On the contrary, we should bear in mind that she is gendered all along, as is the partner that she finally accepts in marriage. The happy ending should therefore be interpreted not so much as a transcendence to the pure world of the ungendered soul, but rather as an admission to an alternative world where the faculty of gender is defined in another sense, that stands under a different jurisdiction, namely the botanical sexual system.
Finally, it is underlined how crucial it is for the understanding of both Tommelise as a character and Tommelise as a text that the swallow retain its neutrality of gender — and that the story be translated just so, at least when the language in question allows for neutral forms of the pronoun.
Torsten Pettersson, All Is But Fragments Devoid of Meaning? Semantic Oscillations in Three Poems by Hugo von Hofmannsthal.
This article studies three poems by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929), but it has two further objectives: to describe the workings of a poetic technique termed “semantic oscillations” and to exemplify a literary reaction to secularization.
The first nineteen lines of “Ballade des äußeren Lebens” (1895) exhibit a tension or micro-oscillation between the desperate nihilism of a meaningless, fragmented world and the consolatory pleasure of the exquisite phrasing. The depressive world view then swings over to a will to live but a further swing back is introduced by the emptiness suggested by “hohl” in the last line.
In “Ein Traum von großer Magie” (1895) there are multiple semantic oscillations: the Magician is described as God, as Goethe, as a Dionysian dreamer, and as a man endowed with the gift of fantasy; “unser Geist” is seen as a personal daimon and as a God common to all; the dream is presented as true and as a hallucinatory projection; and the speaker in the final section of the poem as both reliable and unreliable.
The world of “Vor Tag” (1907) is fragmented and filled with anguish. The human mind forges links between phenomena and endows them with meaning, but this is revealed as gratuitous projection. The religious mini-narrative about the suffering of Christ is similarly presented as a projection – but equally as a true story determining the nature of the cosmos. Between these opposite perceptions the reader is left to oscillate.
Faced with these oscillations in the three poems, scholars have often reduced the meaning of the poems to one of the opposite poles in an attempt to render a unitary meaning. However, all disparate elements of meaning and the oscillation between them are essential to a complex poetic vision which offers solace in a fragmented and meaningless world, while concomitantly suggesting that this solace is an illusory projection. As well as adumbrating the splintered forms of modernism, the technique of semantic oscillations thus adequately embodies fragmentation and lack of meaning as a problematic kernel of secularized modernity
Kristina Fjelkestam, ”Bli sångerska eller gå under”. Nysaklighet och konstnärskap i Vicki Baums Karriär. (“Become a Singer or Perish”. Neue Sachlichkeit and Artistry in Vicki Baum’s Die Karriere der Doris Hart.)
The focus of this study is the German novel Die Karriere der Doris Hart which was published in 1936. It was written by the presently neglected, but at the time best-selling author Vicki Baum. Die Karriere der Doris Hart tells the dramatic success story of an opera singer, and it is told in a fashion where the critical objectivity of the neue sachlichkeit clashes and breaks with an older romantic ideal of the artist. However, in the end the traditionally romantic ideal persists and this essay tries to answer how and why this is the case.
The essay opens with a presentation of Baum’s authorship during the inter-war period. Then the formal criteria of the literary neue sachlichkeit are discussed and compared to the novel which made Baum’s breakthrough, stud. chem. Helene Willfüer from 1928. The actual analysis of Die Karriere der Doris Hart begins with a historical survey of the genre of the Künstlerroman, and is concluded with a comparative analysis of a novel considered to be its intertext, namely Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark from 1915.
Jon Viklund, Modernism i rörelse. Harry Martinson och den poetiska processen. (Modernism in Motion. Harry Martinson and the Poetical Process.)
This article advocates a historicized reading of Swedish lyrical modernism. The poems of many Swedish authors exist not in one form but in multiple versions, published in contexts which are in themselves historically or politically significant for how the poems are to be understood. For Harry Martinson the revision was a central part of the creative process, a process that many times was extended over one print version after another.
In the first section I set out by describing Martinson’s view of writing, also citing some external testimonies to his writing process. Subsequently I present two different but interrelated theoretical approaches to Martinson’s work. The first one is based on assumptions about the textual processes made by French critique génétique, as well as notions of “Textdynamik” found in German editorial theory. I take these perspectives as means of a hermeneutical methodology using revisional variants as incentives for interpretation. As an example I describe and interpret one of Martinson’s unpublished poems as a work in progress, i.e. as a diachronous succession of manuscript versions rather than as a single unit. Secondly I use the theoretical concepts of “sociology of the text” and “material modernism” in order to make sense of the multiple print versions in Martinson’s oeuvre. Different printings of a poem might contain diverse historical meanings and sociopolitical codes (meanings that regularly are erased in later anthologies and critical editions).
In my main analysis I read Martinson’s well known poem “Bomull” (“Cotton”) in three of its different versions – all in all it was printed 13 times during the author’s lifetime. I demonstrate how the poem in every new print version is construed as a different text, marked not only by the different wording but also by the bibliographical context. In the first newspaper version the poem is made into a clear-cut political text, and its meaning is emphasized by the overall political and ideological content of the paper. In the next version, the poem is included in an anthology of “Modern poetry”, with a novel expressive typography and new variants in the text; e.g. the word “maskinerna” (“the machines”) is used in a setting which could easily be understood as a salute to the progressive comrades in his generation. In yet another print version – in the illustrated second edition of Nomad (1943) – the poem has been thoroughly rewritten again. And this time it is illustrated in what, at the time, was labeled a “bibliofilupplaga” (“deluxe edition”). Thus here again the poem is recontextualized, altering the grounds for interpretation. Accordingly, in this analysis I try to show how a historicized reading of different textual print versions can change our perception of the work.
Simone Schiedermair, Lyrikkteori og det språklige uttrykket ”jeg” – teoretiske overveielser relatert til en analyse av et dikt av Tomas Tranströmer. (The theory of lyric poetry and the notion of the “lyrical I” — theoretical considerations and an analysis of a poem by Tomas Tranströmer.)
According to Hegel’s argumentation in Ästhetik (1835-1838) lyric poetry is to be understood as the true expression of the emotional situation of the lyrical poet. Thus during the 19th century literary scholars in Germany – and Scandinavia (e. g. Johan Ludvig Heiberg, Marcus Jacob Monrad) – interpreted the linguistic expression “I” as directly referring to the lyrical poet as a real person. As a reaction to this tradition the notion of the “lyrical I” was introduced in the beginning of the 20th century. It was meant as a device for distinguishing between the poet and the subject in the poem. From the 1970’s on, literary scholars have begun to consider the linguistic expression “I” as a pronoun or a deictic expression and to ask for its function in lyrical poems.
The essay first outlines the essentials of the literary discussion in Germany and Scandinavia about the relation between the lyrical poem and the lyrical poet. It then discusses the concept of deictic expressions taking Karl Bühler’s (1930s) and Konrad Ehlich’s (1980s and 1990s) studies as a starting point. Based on a functional understanding of language, this concept focuses on the interaction between speakers and listeners, texts and their readers. Proceeding by applying this linguistic theory to a literary text of Tomas Tranströmer, “Porträtt med kommentar”, the essay inquires how this poet uses the word “I” and other deictic expressions in his poem. In conclusion, the essay considers general implications concerning the use of linguistic categories for studying literary texts.
Emma Eldelin, Vid tänkandets gränser. Om Peter Nilsons essäistik. (At the Borders of Thought. The Essays of Peter Nilson.)
This study deals with the essays of Swedish author and former astronomer Peter Nilson (1937– 1998). The main aim is to describe the characteristics of Nilson’s essay writing with perspectives from modern essay theory. This is done by relating him to one of the main paths of the international essay tradition, chiefly inspired by Michel de Montaigne, where the essay has served as a method or a creative tool for deep reflective thought. Some common features of the “reflective” essay are here discussed and illustrated through examples from Nilson’s essays. Above all, the reflective essay represents freedom from and opposition against scientific and systematic forms of thinking and writing. In Nilson’s writing, this search for freedom has resulted in myths, fantasies and speculation confronting a scientific ideal of reason and scepticism. Another typical feature of this type of essay is its personal orientation and its focus on the personality of the essayist (or rather the persona or public representation of him or her through the text). Nilson’s persona is ambiguous; on the one hand, it represents the trained scientist and learned astronomer, on the other hand, he is engaged in a complex role play with several fictive identities. Furthermore, an important aspect of the reflective essay is its tendency to portray the image of the essayist in the process of thinking. Nilson’s essays are strongly associative; they seem to be made up by the constant flow of the author’s thoughts, which is of course an effect accomplished by literary means. In sum, the essays of Peter Nilson are meditations and ponderings on the implications of science for everyday life, as well as accounts of the human fascination for myths and legendary figures. His essayistic writing could be described as fragmentary, repetitive and simultaneous: in his essays, he tries to say everything at once. For the author, essayistic writing represents a quest for truth and meaning taking place at the borders of thought, through the confrontation of opposing perspectives.
Magnus Nilsson, Litteratur, etnicitet och föreställningen om det mångkulturella samhället. (Literature, Ethnicity and the Idea of the Multicultural Society.)
The aim of this article is to problematize the premises underlying the reception of the so-called “second generation immigrant writers” in the contemporary Swedish literary field. This reception, as well as the production of “immigrant literature”, is closely related to an emerging national self image in which Sweden has become a “multicultural society”. The idea that Sweden has become multicultural has generated a growing interest in, and a positive valuation of, “immigrant literature”. In addition, this literature has become an important “source” for the conception of Sweden as a “multicultural society”. Against this background I critique the reception of the “second generation immigrant writers”. To begin with I criticize the presumption that “immigrant literature” is first and foremost an expression of ethnic identity. I argue that this presumption — which constitutes the central mediator between the phenomenon “immigrant literature” and the idea that Sweden has become a “multicultural society” — results in an ethnification of literature written by “immigrants”, which, ultimately, is racializing and/or racist. Secondly I analyze the position(s) offered to ethnified writers in the literary field. This analysis is founded on the hypothesis that the cultural capital “exotic ethnicity” has become legitimized as symbolic capital within the literary field. I argue that this has called into existence a new, ethnically defined, position within this field, namely that of the “immigrant writer”. Further, I argue that this position is deeply problematic because it puts great restraints on the possible trajectories within the field of those writers who occupy it.