Skönhetsdyrkare och socialdemokrat studier i Bengt Lidforss litteraturkritiska gärning
Sammanfattning: Bengt Lidforss (1868–1913) was professor of botany between 1910 and 1913. But after the turn of the century he also emerged as a charismatic leader within the Swedish working-class movement. He became one of its foremost publicists. In the social democratic newspaper Arbetet in Malmö he wrote about natural sciences but also about political, philosophical and literary issues. As a literary critic Lidforss was the keenest protector of the Scanian literary school, and his struggle for Ola Hansson and Vilhelm Ekelund has made its mark in Swedish literary history, as have his contributions in favour of Gustaf Fröding and August Strindberg, culminating in the polemic articles during the Strindberg Feud (1910–11). Skönhetsdyrkare och socialdemokrat. Studier i Bengt Lidforss litteraturkritiska gärning (Worshipper of Beauty And Social Democrat. Studies in Bengt Lidforss’ Achievement As A Literary Critic) emphasises the paradoxic combination of Lidforss’ fundamentally socialist views and a strong belief in art. To him art was not isolated from society but quite the contrary; a significant factor in the changing of society. The new socialistic human being should be ennobled by arts instead of emasculated by religion. With the help of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “field”, it is shown how Lidforss, by attacking leading middle-class newspapers and publicists, created for himself and Arbetet a constantly stronger position within the field of journalism. Within the field of literary criticism he attacked the middle-class critics, and thus participated in associating Strindberg and Fröding as well as the young Scanian writers with the working-class movement. Lidforss’ literary taste was seen as an alternative to middle-class taste and the worshipping of beauty thereby became fashionable among socialists. The fact that one finds sympathies not only for symbolism but also for decadent descriptions with Lidforss the socialist, has to do with the fact that the descriptions of the discomfort of the heroes revealed the disadvantages of the capitalist society. Nevertheless Lidforss’ issued warnings against programmatic pessimism, since he was of the opinion that literature should strengthen people in their struggle. When it came to the plight of the human being under capitalism he was a pessimist, but he believed the stronger in a future socialist society. The terms for the artists would be more tolerable in such a society, he prophesied. He admitted that revolutionary poetry could be useful but was of the opinion that the quality of art would lessen if it consciously served politics. The revolutionary poetry he praised in his reviews was poetry he found genuine and coming from the heart. He did not favour pronounced tendencies, but he liked to use poetry in a political context.
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