"Vi, civilisationens ljusbärare" : Orientalistiska mönster i det sena 1800-talets svenska litteratur och kultur
Sammanfattning: "We, the Torch-Bearers of Civilization”. Orientalist Patterns in Late Nineteenth-century Swedish Literature and CultureThis thesis deals with Orientalism as it occurs in the period in Swedish literary and cultural history commonly known as “nittitalet” (the nineties), roughly the last decade of the 19th century. The study explores how the interest for the so-called Orient is manifested in works of fiction and poetry as well as in works of non-fiction genres. It also seeks to relate textual features of separate works to general tendencies in European and Swedish culture at the time.A crucial part of the analysis is devoted to the early works of Verner von Heidenstam. Authors concerned are also Oscar Levertin, Sophie Elkan and Selma Lagerlöf, all belonging to the generation commonly known as “nittitalisterna” – the writers of the nineties. Furthermore, the thesis analyzes travel books of two different kinds, written by Christian pilgrims A. Nordlander, Nils Beskow and P.P. Waldenström, and by journalist and newspaper correspondent Alexis Kuylenstjerna respectively.The phenomenon of Orientalism contains problems on several levels. Most fundamentally, it is imbued by complex questions of representation. More pragmatically, it is obvious that individual authors make use of Orientalist traditions in various ways and for different purposes.While it is obvious that Swedish writers of the time adopt Orientalist conventions concerning styles and rhetorical tropes as well as ideological patterns, there is also a recurrent national theme in their work. A common feature is namely a critique of colonialism and an explicit dissociation from what one conceives of as European cynicism and overbearing manners. As a consequence, this study argues, there is an ambiguous attitude towards the all-European Orientalist tradition in which one is writing.
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