Att slås till insikt : Hjalmar Bergmans roman Clownen Jac
Sammanfattning: This study deals with Hjalmar Berman´s last novel, Clownen Jac (Engl. transl. Jac the Clown), written, broadcast, and published in 1930. Among critics a tradition has been established according to which the novel is of artistically minor importance but of great value as a kind of biographical and psychological "document" revealing Bergman´s opinions and innermost feelings concerning his art and his life as an artist. My interest in the work is of another kind. I regard the novel as a narrative structure manifesting its meaning through the plot. To assimilate the novel you have to answer questions like what kind of story and whose story you are reading. Its different events, motifs, and symbols must be seen in relation to the narrative as a whole. As my interpretation is carried out in constant discussion with previous scholars, I also hope to throw light upon some interpretative questions of principal interest.I argue that Clownen Jac has the same plot structure as Sophocles´ tragedy King Oedipus, the drama of a man deviating from the norm of the story but eventually being brought back to it by the force of destiny. As a "Künstlerroman" Clownen Jac stresses the conflict between the artist and the bourgeois, but the main conflict is within the protagonist himself - as in contemporary works like Tonio Kröger and Der Steppenwolf. But the heroes of Mann and Hesse can, in the tradition of the "Bildungsroman", shape their own lives in an agreeable way, while Bergmans´s hero has to submit to his destiny, wether he likes it or not. His initial mistake and hubris is that he doesn´t want to see himself as a clown by nature. He acts in blindness with disastrous results. Finally, beaten to insight he bids farewell to his illusions about love and ordinary life and yields to and accepts the conditions of a tormented artist. In doing so he becomes worthy of our respect, according to the norm of the novel.
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