Volym 130, 2009
Klaus Müller-Wille, Jagets skådeplats. Medieteoretiska reflexioner kring Strindbergs Taklagsöl (1906). (The Scene of the I. Media theoretical reflexions on Strindberg’s The roofing Ceremony (1906)).
In this essay I show how Strindberg in his “The roofing Ceremony” displays a profound media theoretical consciousness, something that is reflected in the deployment of a series of medial devices in the plot. These media devices are in turn associated with a series of theoretical apprehensions of the human psyche. Media technologies such as the graphopone, the telephone and pen and paper play crucial roles in the crisis of the subject that Strindberg stages in his story.
The notion of a self-sustained psychological identity is constantly challenged by the different media that surround the protagonist, but also by the inescapable otherness of human language and the very materiality of the perceptual and mnemonic apparatus itself.
These medial devices in turn reflect various contemporary psychological theories, such as psychophysical and protopsychoanalytical notions of the psyche. In this interplay between media technology and psychological theory, however, Strindberg does not simply reproduce current notions on the human mind, but rather reflects them critically.
The essay presents two newly discovered Martian epics by the Swedish author of adventure and crime stories, Julius Regis (1889–1925), “En bröllopsresa i blå etern” (1906–1907; “A Honeymoon in Space”) and “Dokumentet från Mars” (1910; “The Document from Mars”). These stories about Swedes travelling in space are clearly influenced by Jules Verne’s novels. Comparison is made with contemporary authors of Martian stories, e.g. H. G. Wells, George Griffith, Edwin Lester Arnold, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Regis emerges as an original and independent author of the space opera genre.
Hjalmar Bergman’s authorship has previously been investigated with Bakhtin’s theories of the novel and the carnival as the main points of reference. This article is instead based on the central bakhtinian concept of the chronotope. The aim is to show how time and space are related to each other in psychologically and existentially significant ways in a selection of Bergman’s novels. Another aim is to demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of chronotope as an intrument of analysis.
Chronotope is a broad concept but limited to specific moments in the diegesis it opens possibilities to study in detail how time thickens and how space is related to time. Furthermore, how chronotopes generate textual derivations on a metaphorical level, can be analysed with the support of Riffaterre’s semiotic theory.
The article deals with both major, genre-defining and minor, local chronotopes, but the primary interest is the threshold chronotope, that is, the point where a crisis takes place. In the article there is a focus on key scenes in the chosen novels in order to show how the threshold chronotope constitute a recurrent motif, which in combination with, or contrasted to other chronotopes, forms a characteristic chronotopical pattern in the authorship of Hjalmar Bergman.
The Swedish poet, essayist and aphorist Vilhelm Ekelund was not only influenced by German literature and philosophy, he also wrote extensive literary criticism on the subject of Romance language authors. This article discusses Ekelund’s relationship to some of the most influential French and Italian writers — as it can be seen in his work during the period 1909–1919. This relationship was ambiguous: he paid homage to French authors such as Montaigne, Montesquieu, Stendhal and Comte — as well as to the Italian poet and philosopher Leopardi – but he also severely criticized such distinguished writers as Baudelaire, Rousseau and Maupassant. One conclusion of this article is that the authors praised by Ekelund all venerate the Greek and Roman cultural heritage, whereas the despised novelists and poets were, in his opinion, either too “modern” or too “feminine” — both highly pejorative adjectives in the author’s terminology. It is also noted that Ekelund’s most ferocious attacks date from the first part of the decade, before he entered a more harmonic period with the works Metron (1918) and Attiskt i fågelperspektiv (1919).
Claudia Lindén, Karen Blixen och maskulinitetens dekonstruktion: En läsning av ”The Old Chevalier”/ ”Den gamle vandrende Ridder”. (Karen Blixen’s deconstruction of masculinity: A reading of ”The Old Chevalier”/”Den gamle vandrende Ridder”.)
It took a while before Isak Dinesen was read as a feminist writer. Many found it difficult to find feminist heroines in her stories. It was not until the the mid 1980’s that Dinesen scholars started to read her “Witches” and “Goddesses” (Sara Stambaug 1988) as such examples. The first to connect Dinesen to a feminist tradition was Ellen Moers. In Literary Women (1976) she pointed out that Dinesen belonged to a tradition, growing out of Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley, that Moers called the “Female Gothic”. Isak Dinesen named her first book Seven Gothic Tales. “Gothic” also recurs in Last Tales. In spite of this Dinesen’s use of the 18th century Gothic mode has not played any central role in the Dinesen reception. Even though her texts are full of skeletons and ghosts it is not terror that is in focus, but rather the investigation in the fundamental instability of the human psyche. Modern researchers on the Gothic period, like Cyndy Hendershot, has also pointed out the disruption of stable notions of gender and sexuality peculiar to the genre, especially “the fragmentation of normative heterosexual masculinity”.
In this article, which is part of a larger project on Dinesen and the Gothic, I argue that, by once more connecting Dinesen to this disruptive Gothic tradition of transgressing gender we can also change our way of reading her. Where earlier feminist readings have looked for feminist representations in Dinesen, I suggest a change of focus, to how intertextual “genre trouble” also produce “gender trouble”. Such a shift of focus also allows us to see how Dinesen’s feminism works through criticism and irony. Through a reading of the story “The Old Chevalier” I show how Dinesen systematically deconstructs and questions normative heterosexual masculinity, thereby showing that masculinity is not only unstable and constructed, but one of our cultures main fictions.
Johan Svedjedal, Rymden och tvåkronan. Karin Boyes För lite och den författarsociala debatten. (Space and the Two-Crown Coin: Karin Boye’s För lite and the debate on authors’ social circumstances.)
Karin Boye’s (1900–1941) novel För lite (1936) [Too Little] depicts a writer who has failed his early promise as a literary author. To provide for his wife and two sons, he has relegated himself to a producer of popular fiction. The article begins with an examination of how Boye uses plot, symbols, psychology and references to the contemporary literary field to discuss the social and intellectual roles of different kinds of artists.
The novel has often been read as a veiled piece of literary autobiography, and the article moves on to an examination of Boye’s own literary career. Although Boye had temporary difficulties in supporting herself solely by writing, there are many differences between her and the protagonist in För lite. Boye graduated as a school-teacher in the 1920s, but after a brief period of teaching she soon became a professional writer. In the early 1930s, Boye was forced to occasional reviewing and even writing of popular stories, but her main output was literary fiction, which made her an esteemed author, published by the prestigious Bonnier’s publishing house and a member of the distinguished literary academy Samfundet De Nio [Academy of the Nine]. She supplemented the remuneration for her own books with translation fees, but an important part of her income came from literary awards and grants (a general feature for literary authors of her days). As exactly as possible, her literary incomes from various sources are calculated, grants roughly equivalating the remunerations from her books, grants and remunerations both each giving her double the income from her translations.
The possibility of receiving such grants is conspicuously absent in the literary world of För lite. In fact, the novel may be read as an attempt of promulgating the necessity of such grants. During the 1930s, Karin Boye took an active part in the campaign launched by Sveriges Författareförening [The Swedish Association of Authors] for giving authors compensation for the use of their books in public libraries. The gloomy representation of the writer’s conditions in För lite is perfectly consistent with arguments in this campaign.
The article concludes with information on Karin Boye’s work in Sveriges Författareförening and Samfundet De Nio (the later with the main objective of dispensing literary grants and awards), and on her posthumous success as an author. The vast differences between her own literary career and that of the protagonist in För lite is stressed, maintaining that the novel is neither realistic nor mainly psychological, but an attempt to stir up debate.
The article presents a hitherto unpublished prose fragment by Swedish author Viktor Rydberg (1828–1895). The fragment, in accordance with Rydberg’s notes entitled “En besynnerlig bibliotekarie” (“A Peculiar Librarian”), is here published for the first time, together with a list of variants in the original manuscript, which itself is preserved in the collections of the Royal Library in Stockholm. Following upon an initial overview of the the fragment’s place in Rydberg’s production, the setting and theme of the fragment are compared to a contemporary and more famous work by the same writer, the romantic novella Singoalla. Romantisk Sagodigt, first published in 1857. Similarities between the two texts are presented in order to cast further light upon the imaginary world of Rydberg during one of his most productive periods as an author. In a concluding discussion, the citings of literary works in the fragment are taken into consideration. The mentioning of the popular German author August Lafontaine’s adventure novels is, among other things, used to interpret the fragment’s title figure as obsolete and foolish. This is, in fact, his “peculiarity”, and the fragment can accordingly be read as a satire.