Är det detta som kallas postmodernism? : En studie i Katarina Frostensons och Stig Larssons diktning

Sammanfattning: During the 1980s the word ’postmodernism’ was inserted into the dicourse of Swedish literature in a curious way. Even though both writers and critics found the word bewildering – or deemed it a buzzword devoid of meaning – it sparked fierce debates. Despite this, and despite the fact that few wanted to be associated with the word, it has become common to describe the 1980s as the era of Swedish literary postmodernism. This thesis is an investigation of the poetry of Katarina Frostenson and Stig Larsson, who both have been considered significant examples of the period’s literature and what has been called “the postmodern turn” in Swedish literature, forcing similarity on two major, but significantly different, poets. By partly recognizing the latter association, this thesis begins by arguing that the current use of the term ‘postmodernism’ is flawed, and later seeks to endow it with new meaning. For this purpose, Fredric Jameson’s theory of postmodernity is introduced. Rather than using the term ‘postmodernism’ to designate a period style or an ideology of thought, Jameson argues that it is best viewed as periodizing category, designating a cultural change, mirroring a change in the history of capitalism. Postmodernity is, in short, the name of our historical period; the theory of postmodernity does not imply a cancellation of the modernist tradition, but rather its continution under changed conditions: literature’s relations to society and culture have been altered. Informed by Jamesons theory, my aim is to investigate and provide interpretations and readings of Frostensons and Larssons poetry. The main argument is that the theory of postmodernity allows us to explain the differing poetological problems of both poets without reducing them to similarity and without having to construct a radical break with modernism. My thesis is divided into three analytical chapters. The first chapter traces, by means of broad-stroked analysis, the use of the term ‘postmodernism’ in relation to literature, both in general and with particular regard to how it has been used within the context of Swedish literature. It also develops and discusses the theory of postmodernity, which in turn informs the latter chapters. In the second chapter, I investigate the poetry of Frostenson by focusing in particular on her poetological writings and two poems, “Negativ, tindra” (Joner, 1991) and “Hornet” (Karkas, 2004). I center the chapter around what I argue to be two especially significant and related functions in Frostenson’s poetry, ‘the negative’ and ‘the open’, which I analyze by metapoetical readings of the poems. The latter function is further discussed in relation to Flodtid (2011) and the poem “Maten man äter/Klagan”. In the third chapter, I investigate the poetological writings and poetry of Larsson by focusing in particular on his attempt to write ‘bad poetry’ in Natta de mina (1997), which I relate to a pattern of anti-literature throughout his authorship. Here his determination to become a classic and original writer is given particular attention. Finally, I summarize my analysis; the poetry of Frostenson and Larsson, I argue, retain significant features of modernism, but is written under the changed literary conditions of postmodernity. Differences and similarities between the two poets are highlighted, but whether they should be called modernists or postmodernists is not concusively answered, though the thesis ends by proposing and outlining a reconceptualization of ‘postmodernism’.