Litterära besvär : skildringar av sjukdom i samtida svensk prosa

Detta är en avhandling från Ellerströms förlag

Sammanfattning: This dissertation studies the theme of illness in Swedish fiction from the first decade of the 21st century. The aim is to present a wide-ranging discussion about illness as a contemporary literary theme. The selection of texts has been confined to a short time-span – a decade – in order to acknowledge that themes of illness are temporally and culturally situated. Seven novels are discussed in depth and related to different contexts. The investigation of the theme of illness is primarily done through exploring the novels in dialogue with other texts – literary as well as historical and theoretical.

Under the heading ‘Illness as Exile’, the sickroom is explored as a chronotope in Mikhail Bakhtin’s sense, and the modern and secularised depictions of illness and death are contrasted with the medieval Ars moriendi. The novels discussed are Carl-Henning Wijkmark’s Stundande natten (Impending Darkness, 2007) and Maria Fagerberg’s Svart dam (Queen of Black, 2003). Per Olov Enquist’s novel Boken om Blanche och Marie (2004, translated as The Book about Blanche and Marie 2006) is in ‘The Sick Female Body as a Battlefield’ read both in dialogue with source material about the historical Blanche Wittman and with culture-historical analyses of hysteria, an illness which has been interpreted and historicised to an exceptional degree.

In the chapter ‘Eating Disorder as a Problem of Boundaries’, two novels are studied, Åsa Ericsdotter’s Kräklek (Vomiting Game, 2002) and Sara Mannheimer’s Reglerna (The Rules, 2008). Analytical tools from anthropology, feminism, and psychoanalytical theory are employed in order to explore eating disorders as an expression of boundary problems. Torgny Lindgren’s novel Pölsan (2002, translated as Hash 2004) is discussed in the chapter ‘Contagion as Paradoxical Life-Giver’, which focuses on Lindgren’s way of inverting the duality of immunity and contagion. The novel is read in connection to the myths of tuberculosis and to sanatorium narratives. In ‘Illness as a Fashioning of the Self ’, finally, Anders Paulrud’s Fjärilen i
min hjärna (The Butterfly in My Brain, 2008) is discussed primarily with a focus on the narrator’s specific situation in a fictive novel with a distinct claim to be autobiographical.

The study also presents the field of scholarship referred to as Medical Humanities, focusing in particular on that part which is called Literature and Medicine. In outlining the aims and development of these fields the chapter presents a dynamic and comparatively new scholarly field to a Swedish audience.