Volym 139, 2018
Helene Blomqvist, Deptartment of Languages, Literature and Interculture, Karlstad University
The Pleasurable Sinner. Epistle 23 and the Lutheran Aspects of Carl Michael Bellman’s Poetry (Den välbehaglige syndaren. Epistel 23 och det lutherska hos Bellman)
Through studying Epistle no 23 in Fredman’s Epistles, this article investigates the compassionate gaze in Carl Michael Bellman’s poetry. The structure of “Fredman’s Epistle No. 23, which is a Soliloquy, when Fredman lay in front of the Creep-in Tavern, opposite the Bank Building, a summer night in the year 1769” is modelled on the complaint psalms in the biblical Book of Psalms. Like these psalms Epistle 23 consists of a large portion of complaints, descriptions of a situation of need, and cries for help, followed by a sudden and unmotivated transformation and finally expressions of thankfulness and joy. The same structure also characterizes the core of Martin Luther’s religious thinking, as shown in his On the Freedom of a Christian (1520). In a most paradoxical way the sinner is suddenly — without any doing of his own — declared righteous and pleasurable to God, thanks to the redemptive death of Christ. While still on this Earth man is simul iustus et peccator — at the same time a sinner and completely righteous. Likewise, Bellman portrays a man that is at the same time wretched, miserable and lost — and worthy, pleasurable and loveable. And this pleasurableness has nothing to do with morals. It is all grace. With this redeeming gaze — in Luther and in Bellman — also comes an appreciation of everyday earthly and bodily life. Neither in Luther nor in Bellman is that which is worthy and holy to be found in convents or churches, but instead in living rooms, streets, and even taverns and gutters, as in Epistle 23. And the light of grace shines not only on Fredman but on Bellman’s poetic world as a whole.
Anna Möller-Sibelius, Åbo Akademi University
From National Awakening to Identity Construction. Literary History Writing on Swedish language Literature in Finland (Från nationellt uppvaknande till identitetskonstruktion. Litteraturhistorieskrivning om den svenska litteraturen i Finland)
This article examines how literary-history surveys on Swedish language literature in Finland have changed over time, from the earliest works dating back to the 1860s until today. These surveys, focusing on Swedish-language literature in Finland as a separate subject, follow general trends in literary-history writing, i.e. they move from a nationalistic perspective influenced by Herder to a pluralistic and social constructivist view on literature. However, Swedish-language literature in Finland has specific characteristics that are related to its historical background as the leading national literature in the 19th century and its degradation to a minority position from the 20th century onwards. A common perspective in the literary histories is that the literature in question is small, peripheral and limited. Yet, in the surveys from the turn of the millennium the influence from new theoretical discourses is noticeable as a productive force. Instead of continuing a literary-history tradition of negativity and claustrophobia, which was the case for several decades in the 20th century, literary historians took an interest in discussing minority questions, imagined communities and identity construction. This new approach coincided with an anticipated novel boom and a general prosperity in Finland-Swedish literature. Obviously, the recent theoretical trends have been productive in literary-history writing, but the situation also raises questions. For instance, what are the implications of “the transnational turn” for a linguistically and territorially defined minority literature? Will the new contexts Från nationellt uppvaknande till identitetskonstruktion shared with other minorities result in marginalization or, on the other hand, will the interest in the specific conditions for each minority last?
Alfred Sjödin, Department of Comparative Literature, Center for Language and Literature, Lund University
Two Versions of Philology. Context, Genealogy, and World Literature Connections in Henrik Schück (Två versioner av filologi. Kontext, genealogi och världslitterära samband hos Henrik Schück)
At a time when the question of context and scale is discussed from a variety of perspectives (e.g. the digital humanities, research in world literature), it seems necessary to cast a glance at the way a normal sense of context became established in Swedish research. This article investigates the tension between two explicative schemes (genealogical and socio-historical contextualization) in this early phase of Swedish research in literary history, pointing to how they coexisted yet were applied to different literary phenomena (traditional or collective creations vs. more modern and artistic ones). It also seeks to explain the reasons for the later marginalization of the genealogical type of inquiry and to describe what was lost in this process. In particular, research in world literature, which seemed a possibility given the general nature of early Swedish literary research, could benefit from reengaging with this older disciplinary tradition and its view of the long history of literature.
Peter Forsgren, Department of Film and Literature, Linnaeus University
“I’m something in-between”: Class and Colonialism in Gustaf Hellström’s Bildungsroman Love and Politics (“Jag är ett mellanting”. Klass och kolonialism i Gustaf Hellströms bildningsroman Kärlek och politik)
This article analyzes Gustaf Hellström’s novel Kärlek och politik (Love and Politics), published in 1942, from both a class and a postcolonial perspective, showing how they interact with each other, and with gender as well. Following the novel’s hero, Stellan Petreus and his development during his stay in London 1908–1911 as a foreign correspondent, the analysis shows how his identity as a Swede and as a liberal middle-class man is disrupted when he is confronted with class conflicts and social injustices in England and with British colonial policies, especially towards Ireland and India. The analysis also shows that Stellan Petreus uses his writings, both as a journalist and as an author of fiction, as a way to cope with the conflicts he is faced with. Another way to deal with the conflicts is to define his position as an “in-betweener” (mellanting).
Malin Gunnarsson, MA at the Department of Humanities, Comparative Literature, Mid Sweden University
Revival, Opposition, Identity: Conversions in Astrid Forsberg’s Novels (Väckelse, opposition, identitet. Omvändelser hos författaren Astrid Forsberg)
This essay explores the work of the Swedish author Astrid Forsberg. It focuses on the theme of conversion, which recurs in all ten of her novels. The books were written between 1925 and 1965. Forsberg was born in Bergsjö in 1898. She grew up in a Baptist home and later converted to Catholicism. Before her debut as a fiction writer she was a teacher and a journalist. She also wrote drama and poetry. Forsberg died in Stockholm in 1966.
This essay identifies three separate aspects of the conversion theme: Christian, social and individual. The Christian revival conversion functions as a standard model. It is expressed both as a love for Christ and as a life lived in conscientiousness. The social conversion is expressed through opposition, love and Bildung. Finally, the individual conversion is the character’s struggle for a genuine self-image. This essay identifies a shift in Forsberg’s work, from identity creation in a Christian context, to a corresponding identity creation that is secular and individualistic. Subsequently there is a move back, where the characters turn to God again, but from a more individualistic vantage point. These shifts between different ways of identitying creation in Forsberg’s novels have a parallel in the differences between a philosophical and a rhetorical ideal of education, as reflected in the German word Bildung.
Sara Stymne, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University
Johan Svedjedal, Department of Literature, Uppsala University
Carin Östman, Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University
Linguistic Rhythm in Narrative Prose: the case of Karin Boye’s Kallocain (Språklig rytm i skönlitterär prosa. En fallstudie i Karin Boyes Kallocain)
The concept of rhythm in prose is ambiguous, and there is no consensus on how to define it. In this work, we focus on linguistic rhythm, at word, sentence and paragraph levels. We adopt and slightly extend rhythm indicators used in previous research, and show that these can be calculated fully automatically, on a much larger scale than previously done.
We adopt the Swedish poet and novelist Karin Boye’s (1900–41) novel Kallocain (1940), as a case study. It is an icily dystopian depiction of a totalitarian future, where the protagonist Leo Kall first embraces this system, but for various reasons later rebels against it. The peripety comes when he gives a public speech, questioning the State. It has been pointed out that the novel from precisely this point on is characterized by a much freer rhythm, and that Boye as an author had considerable interest in questions of linguistic rhythm. This paper sets out to test this hypothesis by applying sixteen indicators of linguistic rhythm in narrative prose (such as word length, sentence length, ratio of punctuation, etc.).
We first note that we can expect differences between narrative and dialogue and limit most of our study to the first-person narrative. We find that there are significant differences mainly between phrase and word lengths in the parts before and after Leo Kall’s conversion. In a further investigation we note that there is also great variation among indicators within each part of the novel. We also show that machine learning can be used to differentiate small segments from each part of the novel, with higher accuracy than a random classifier. Finally, we undertake a small study of dialogue, which, however is mainly inconclusive. In summary we find some support for the claim that there is a rhythm break in Kallocain. We also believe that our study is important from a methodological point of view, since it provides a method for largescale studies of prose rhythm in the future.
Johan Almer, School of Informatics, University of Skövde
To knock Death out of the Game. An analysis of Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “Medieval motif ” (Att sätta döden ur spel. En analys av Tomas Tranströmers dikt “Medeltida motiv”)
The Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer’s (1931–2015) poem “Medieval Motif ”, from For Living and Dead (1989), takes its visual point of departure in the motif “Man who plays chess with Death about his life”. A motif also found in medieval visual arts (Albertus Pictor, 1440–1509) and in modern film art (Ingmar Bergman, 1918–2007). In both Pictors painting, ”The Game of Chess with Death” (around 1480), and Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal (1957), Death knocks man out of the game by checkmate. In Tranströmer’s poem, however, things turn out somewhat differently. In “Medieval Motif ” there is unique word in Swedish poetry, “frisörsaxklippande” (“barber-scissor-like clipping”), as a determination for a sound. The analysis of the poem tries to answer a number of questions: What is this sound exactly? Why does the sound occur in a poem about a motif from the Middle Ages? What function does the sound have for the poem as an artistic whole? The “Medieval motif ”, which besides the title consists of two Sapphic stanzas, is the subject of an in-depth motif analysis and of a composition analysis. In summary, the analysis shows that the “Medieval motif ” forms an epiphany where the motif of Vanitas contributes to the understanding of the moment of togetherness as time and space cease to exist, and a previously hidden truth is revealed. As a part of that truth, Death is knocked out of the game.
Emma Eldelin, Department of Culture and Communication, Linköping University
A Poetics of the Underground: Space, Place and Intertextuality in Malte Persson’s Underjorden (Tunnelbanans poetik. Rum, plats och intertextualitet i Malte Perssons Underjorden)
The descent to the underworld in search of wisdom or to regain something or someone lost is a classic topos of literary history. In the context of urbanization and the technological transformation of society of the last two centuries, literary underworlds have often been re-imagined as actual and material subterranean spaces like subways, catacombs or sewers. In modernist poetry, for example, the descent to the underworld — rethought as an underground of modern transportation — has served as a spatial point of departure for reflections on poetics, on the poet’s conflictual relationship to the literary past and to his or her own society. Staged as a collection of sonnets on the Stockholm metro, Malte Persson’s Underjorden (2011) can be read as a contemporary take on this modern metamorphosis of the underworld. It can also be put forward as an example of a recurring tendency in the last few decades to link writing and literature to various urban and semi-public spaces of transit and transport, a tendency which poses significant challenges to Romantically infused ideas of literary creation as a place-bound, domestic, private and solitary activity. In this article, Persson’s Underjorden is discussed as an example of how a poetics of the underground is reflected and reconfigured in the Information Age. With perspectives from spatial theory and intertextual analysis, it is argued that two classic myths of poetic creation are contrasted and associated with underground space in Persson’s sonnet collection. Rather than opting for one of them, the self-reflective speaker of Underjorden remains playfully undecided on which side to take: is the contemporary poet a modern Orpheus or genius, creating original poetry, or an imitator, copyist and sampler, pouring from the boundless storehouse of literature?