Modernitet och myt : avförtrollning och återförtrollning i Knut Hamsuns Sult, Mysterier och Pan
Sammanfattning: Knut Hamsun (1859-1952) is generally regarded as one of the first proponents of modern literature in Scandinavia. The present thesis discusses the author’s breakthrough phase which took place around the year 1890. This was an era when societal modernity became established in the Scandinavian countries, and new and revolutionary ideas and norms appeared concerning society, science, and art. Hamsun was an active recipient of everything new. He was part of a diverse group of contemporary Western authors, artists, and intellectuals who sought to register and interpret the changes that took place. At the center of my interest is the author’s understanding of, and attitudes toward, modernity and how these opinions are expressed in three central texts in Hamsun’s output from the 1890s: Hunger (1890), Mysteries (1892) and Pan (1894). My study involves a shift of emphasis and a further development of earlier investigations. In order to describe and interpret the author’s relationship to modernity, I make use of the concepts of “disenchantment” (Entzauberung in the vocabulary of Max Weber) and “re-enchantment”. These concepts are especially suitable in discussions concerning the relationship of the early works to their time, and their specific prerequisites. The use of the concepts varies in my presentation. They are used as a means to describe and interpret the author’s attitudes to the social modernity that he confronted, and as tools for the analysis of the texts in which I am interested. The thesis explores the dynamic relationship between one of the consequences of the Modern Age – the disenchantment of the world – and the myth of a recreated enchantment that I contend was formed during the author’s breakthrough phase, and how this polarity is manifested in the three novels I consider to be the most central in the author’s output from the 1890s. My investigation seeks to explain how the author’s ambivalent perspective toward the modern came to be used for an artistic purpose.
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