"Skeendet på stället" : Röster och samtidigheter i tre verk av Sara Lidman

Sammanfattning: This thesis examines how cultural encounters and asymmetrical power relationships are depicted in three works by Sara Lidman (1923–2004): Hjortronlandet (“Cloudberry Land”) from 1955, Med fem diamanter (“With Five Diamonds”) from 1964 and Samtal i Hanoi (“Conversations in Hanoi”) from 1966. They are set in three very different colonial contexts, northern Sweden in the early 20th century, Kenya in the early 1960’s and Vietnam in 1965, and take place in a time of transition when an agricultural, local way of life is challenged by a Eurocentric understanding of modernity and knowledge. In accordance with the postcolonial perspective the notions of modernity and colonialism are intimately intertwined in this analysis. Dichotomies such as centre and periphery, coloniser and colonised are problematised in the texts, and this study explores further the complexities that emerge in the encounters described. In terms of identity this also implicates ambivalence, individually as well as groupwise. In all three titles the ambivalence is shown at different levels of the texts, both thematically, narratologically and stylistically. I suggest that the literary reportage Samtal i Hanoi contains many aesthetic features similar to those found in the two novels, despite the difference in genres due to their relation to reality. Consequently, this implies that there is not a sharp distinction between Lidman as an author of novels and of documentary writing. The thesis also discusses the problem of representing the other’s voice, in a political sense as well as in the sense of literary writing, and the continual striving to do so as respectfully as possible. Regarding Lidman’s dialogic aestehics, this ambition is manifested for instance in a subversive use of language, of intertextuality and of hegemonic symbols and metaphors. By studying the dialogic tensions of concurrent, and sometimes opposing, voices in the texts, I show that the subversive literary strategies in Lidman’s works often create a certain discursive space which problematises not only the conceptions of Eurocentric modernity and knowledge but also contains an ethical appeal which reaches far beyond the text.

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