Volume 142, 2021
Cecilia Aare, Department of Social Sciences, Södertörn University
Narrative Commitment and a Complex Narrative Technique in Gustaf Hellström’s War Reportage (Narrativt engagemang och komplex berättarteknik i Gustaf Hellströms krigsreportage)
The 1910s was a dynamic period in Swedish journalism when reporters became professionals and the largest newspapers engaged their own foreign correspondents. A prominent correspondent of the time was Gustaf Hellström, also a famous writer. His reports from France during the First World War, collected in the book 1 1/2 mil härifrån står världens största slag, are known for their dedicated attitude. An assumption in this essay is that such an attitude corresponds to a narrative commitment, which could be divided into narrative empathy and narrative compassion.
Using tools from discourse narratology and cognitive narratology, I investigate narrative techniques and strategies at work when a narrative commitment is constructed in the reportages from France. A conclusion is that parallel perspectives and a multitude of voices within the narrative construction connect the individual to the general and convey empathy with all victims of the war, civilians as well as soldiers on both sides.
In a final section, I place Hellström’s series of reportages from France within a broader context where I highlight similarites with Stig Dagerman’s series of reportages Tysk höst from 1946 and Svetlana Alexievich’s documentary books from the 1980s and onwards.
Yasmin Nyqvist, Department of Comparative Literature, Åbo Akademi University
Anna Bondestam as a Working-Class Writer. A Marketing and Reception Analysis (Anna Bondestam som arbetarförfattare. En marknadsförings- och receptionsanalys)
In the contemporary history of literature, the Finland-Swedish author, historian, and social democratic activist Anna Bondestam (1907–1995) is considered one of the few and foremost depicters of the Finland-Swedish working class. Even though this position might have seemed undisputable at the end of Bondestam’s career, with her having written several novels from a working-class perspective and five historic books about the Finland-Swedish working-class movement, this article addresses and analyzes the quite different official images of the author in the Finland-Swedish, Finnish-speaking and Swedish public spheres in the first half of her career in the 1940s and 50s. Through a study of publishing house marketing for her novel Lågt i tak (1944) along with analyses of the critical reception of three of her novels set in a working-class environment — Lågt i tak, Klyftan (1947) and Vägen till staden (1957) — the article shows the ways in which Bondestam, when it comes to the working-class perspective and the political message of her work, was marketed and perceived quite differently at the time, depending on cultural and national contexts. On the one hand, the article sheds light on how Bondestam was constructed as a working-class author over time and, on the other, shows the different ways the topic was handled by the cultural establishments in Sweden and among the Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking Finns respectively.
Mats Jansson, Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg
The Black Rainbow: The Voice of Melancholy in the Writings of Folke Dahlberg (Den svarta regnbågen. Melankolins röst hos Folke Dahlberg)
In this article I focus on melancholy as a particular feeling or sensory mood as it appears in the writings of Folke Dahlberg (1912–1966). The article takes its cue from Dahlberg’s statementthat a certain “tender sadness” runs through his entire oeuvre. The purpose of the article is to concretize and lay bare the shifting appearances and nuances of this mood in Dahlberg’s writing. This is done by tracking melancholy as a particular literary dialect or voice expressed through diction, vocabulary, figurative language, states of feeling within a certain semantic and emotional register. The article addresses questions of how the voice of melancholy is expressed and what its recurring features are, and it considers ways in which it can be overcome or dealt with. Sublimation proves to be a psychological strategy at work. Melancholy is preserved and nursed though writing; it generates or feeds creativity. Solitude, gloom, silence, indifference,and despondency are shown to be terms that constitute the semantic register of Dahlberg’s melancholy. Furthermore, Dahlberg refers to the concept of spleen which relates him to a Symbolist aesthetics, where he is accompanied by Gunnar Ekelöf and Vilhelm Ekelund, two other poets within the tradition of melancholia. However, Dahlberg also gives expression to a particular melancholy related to man’s aging, the human body and the loss of bodily and sensory faculties. This physiologically motivated melancholy rests on the notion of man as a timebound and finite creature. In contrast to Pär Lagerkvist’s religious and transcendent serenity, which Dahlberg refers to, his own bodily conditioned melancholy could be termed immanent.
Caroline Haux, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University
Borderland of Disease: Analyses of the Border from Two Directions in Torgny Lindgren’s Hummelhonung (Sjukdomens gränsland. Studie av gränsen från två sidor i Torgny Lindgrens roman Hummelhonung)
This article investigates how disease as a predicament of human existence is posed as both problem and solution. The border is at the centre of the study — that which both divides and connects, hinders and channels, establishes opposites and makes fusion possible. Two perspectives are laid out: one in which the border that also can be understood as difference is investigated in a sphere of immanence; the other situates the border where transcendence is possible. The first angle is theorized with the help of René Girard’s concept of “triangular desire”, the second angle is investigated through the discourse of mysticism, represented by Simone Weil and Jacob Boehme. Both perspectives posit the border as a switchboard between self and other. With the border at the centre, the article pursues the emergence of an ethical subject.
Johanna Lindbo, Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg
With Deep Water Underneath the Skin: A Reading of Hydrological Bodies and Femininity in Works by Birgitta Trotzig and Mare Kandre (Med bråddjupt vatten under huden. En läsning av hydrologiska kroppar och femininitet i verk skrivna av Birgitta Trotzig och Mare Kandre)
The image of the sea as a gestational entity can be traced through history in various kind of storytelling and writing. This depiction is part of a rich and diverse understanding of femininity and ecology, and it has been both cherished and rejected by feminist scholars. In this article my aim is to illuminate and analyze the metaphorical language describing and combining motherhood, femininity and water in the writings of Birgitta Trotzig (1929–2011) and Mare Kandre (1962–2005). Through a material ecocritical framework my analysis focuses on the process of becoming water/subject and the relationship between the concepts of metaphor and figuration. As my readings will show, the metaphorical language in Trotzig’s and Kandre’s narratives creates complex examples of being of the world, where the boundaries between the human and the more-than-human are porous and transformative. An overarching aim of this study is to explore some of the new and rich approaches to literary fiction that a material ecocritical perspective can offer. The attentive and sensorial language in Trotzig’s and Kandre’s works, and the both flourishing and sometimes provocative portrayal of femininity, more-than-human matter and subjecthood, appear as a particularly rewarding source for such an investigation.
Johan Alfredsson, Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg
The Poetic Zone: The Performative Potential of Poetry in Picturebooks for Children (Den poetiska zonen. Poesins performativa potential i bilderböcker för barn)
This article discusses how picturebooks for children can make use of poetry in order to empower child readers to bridge the asymmetric aetonormativity between child and adult inherent in the picturebook format. The article launches the concept of the poetic zone, springing from both epistemologically based poetry theory and norm critical theory. Two picturebooks are used as examples: Gro Dahle’s and Svein Nyhus’s Snill [What a Girl!], from 2002, and Lina Ekdahl and Emma Hanquist’s Vi smular vi härmar en gök [We Crumble We Imitate a Cuckoo], from 2016. Analyses of the poetic qualities of the two books show how they both pinpoint, and performatively empower, the child reader’s perspective. This takes place in the relationships between child and adult within the books’ plots, as well as in relation to the picturebook format. The poetic qualities that contribute in this sense concern both imagery, and rhythmical as well as auditory aspects of language.
Anna Biström, Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, Scandinavian literature, University of Helsinki
Researchers’ Favorites and the Great Unexplored: A Broad Review of Finland-Swedish Authors 1830–1930 and their Visibility in Database References and Secondary Literature (Forskarnas favoriter och det stora outforskade. En grovgenomgång av finländska skönlitterära författare på svenska 1830–1930 och deras synlighet i databasreferenser och sekundärlitteratur)
This article maps the group of Finland-Swedish authors writing in 1830–1930 and gives an overview of the number of database references and the amount of secondary literature about them. The study builds on information especially in the database Finna (finna.fi), and bibliographies. In the first part of the study, questions regarding for instance the complex definition of “Finland- Swedish literature” and the category of “authors” are discussed, as well as methodological and theoretical questions in connection with the use of (digital) databases and quantitative methods in literary studies. The latter part of the article explores patterns regarding the amount of secondary literature about the authors, and the visibility of the authors in databases. The study shows that secondary literature to a considerable degree deals with other aspects of the authors than their literary works, which illustrates the connections between literature and other parts of society and culture. Also, the study partly confirms former descriptions of research as traditionalist with a nationalist agenda, while a small minority of the authors share a large portion of database references. The study also gives a more nuanced view with, for instance, ample evidence of secondary literature about modernist authors. Additionally, it shows that the least discussed authors constitute a broader group of authors, representing popular and local genres, for example.
Elin Svahn, Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm University
Pay, Prestige, but Not Publicity? Translation Awards in Sweden 1862–2019 (Pengar och prestige, men inte publicitet? Översättarpriser i Sverige 1862–2019)
The aim of this study is to provide a systematic overview of translation awards in Sweden with a point of departure in seventeen Swedish translation awards. More specifically, the study aims to compare the general patterns surrounding translation awards with literary awards in Sweden researched by Määttä (2010) and to discuss economic, cultural and journalistic capital attached to translation awards. After a discussion of cultural and literary awards more generally, the limited research available on translation awards is presented, after which the seventeen translation awards under scrutiny are presented in depth. Three sorts of translation awards are presented: the first awards translators, e.g., for a life-time achievement; the second awards a translator for a particular translation; and the third awards a particular translation. Different aspects related to translation awards are then thoroughly discussed, such as the awarding institutions, how frequently the awards are disseminated, what the award sum amounts to, when the awards were instigated and their development over time, and to what extend the translation awards have an impact in the media. The study shows that although there are some notable similarities with the literary awards in Määttäs study, not least in terms of the awarding institutions and the development of the awards over time, there are also some characteristics that seem to distinguish translation awards from literary awards. For example, translation awards have less journalistic capital than literary awards. In the discussion, particular emphasis is placed on what kind of quality — that of the source text or of the translation — a translation award can be expected to reward, as well as on how a conversion of different forms of capital might look like from the point of view of a translator. The paper ends with a suggestion of the five most important Swedish translation awards and points out further avenues for future research.
Elisabeth Hjorth, HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg
Nonsense, nerdery and literary life strategies: a reading of Nonsensprinsessans dagbok (Nonsens och nörderi som strategi. En läsning av Isabella Nilssons Nonsensprinsessans dagbok)
The debut book Nonsensprinsessans dagbok by Isabella Nilsson is a diary, written from the perspective of a suicidal, anorectic girl. In the foreword the author promises her mother to live for one more year, to not kill herself in the following twelve months (during which the book takes place). The diary itself consists of daily “gibberish poems”, prose fragments and aphorisms, interleaved by short essays on being treated for anorexia in the Swedish healthcare system. Though a reading, from a writer’s perspective, of this diary the following subjects are discussed: the relation between literature and mental illness, literature as the author’s survival strategy and literary style as agency and comfort. The article argues that therapeutic writing could be understood as an artistic practice as much as a way to deal with illness. Literary strategies such as using an alter ego, humour, irony and wordplay are used as tools of resistance, directed against bad therapeutic treatment but also against reductive and damaging images of women and anorectics. In summary the article calls for more, and more productive, ways to interpret “therapeutic writing” and establishes that Nonsensprinsessans dagbok makes a vibrant contribution to this subject.
Andrej Scheglov, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences
The Testament of King Magnus: An Old Russian Text about King Magnus Eriksson. Translation and introduction by Andrej Scheglov (Kung Magnus testamente. En fornrysk skrift om kung Magnus Eriksson, Översättning och inledning av Andrej Scheglov)
How did the Russians perceive Sweden in the Middle Ages? One important source is the socalled Testament of King Magnus (Rukopisanie korolya Magnusha), an Old Russian text about Magnus Eriksson, King of Sweden (1319–1364). It says that King Magnus suffered a shipwreck but was saved by Russian monks and became a Russian monk himself. King Magnus is said to admonish the Swedes that they should never invade Russia, and he reminds the Swedes of the failures of the Swedish rulers who violated peace treaties that had been concluded with the Russians.
Modern scholars have translated The Testament of King Magnus into Swedish and Danish. However, one of the most important versions of this document, the so-called Moscow version, has never been translated into any Nordic language. The present publication fills this gap and provides an annotated Swedish translation of the Moscow version.
An interesting feature of The Testament of King Magnus is that the Swedish king speaks in the first person: he tells the readers about his campaign against Russia, about his sufferings and misfortunes, and about the defeats of his predecessors who invaded Russia. Parallels to this feature can be found in medieval Swedish and Danish texts – in particular, in the Small Rhymed Chronicle (Lilla Rimkrönikan) and in the so-called Danish Rhymed Chronicle (Den danske rimkrønike) where Swedish and Danish kings describe their lives and their mistakes in a similar way. I suggest that this similarity between these Scandinavian texts and The Testament of King Magnus could be a result of Scandinavian influence on Russian medieval culture.