Osannolika händelser och den svenska realistiska romanen : Ett estetiskt och existentiellt bekymmer

Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with improbable events in the realistic novel. The overarchingidea is that realism is distinguished by dealing with improbable events on thebasis of a double perspective: both as an existential and as an aesthetic problem.As an existential problem the improbable events of narrative fiction representthe constantly present possibility of an unexpected and unforeseen event suddenly occurring and changing our lives in the most dramatic manner, and thiswithout any person being responsible for it. These improbable events concernkey moral and ethical values, such as responsibility, freedom, power, and justice.When this existential condition is portrayed in realism by means of improbableevents another problem appears, an aesthetic concern. Improbable events risk(unintentionally) breaking the illusion of reality and giving the impression thatthe author has resorted to a makeshift solution in order to lead the story in thedesired direction at the expense of the narrative’s mimetic credibility.The thesis’ first part presents a theoretical model that distinguishes betweendifferent kinds of improbable events: conventional improbable events, parodicimprobable events, and realistic improbable events. After that follows detailedanalyses of six Swedish novels – of how they, in different ways, struggles with theproblem of improbable events – covering the period 1830–1971.In the conclusion it is suggested that this double-pronged problem is a historically limited phenomenon that may be said to have played out its role.

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