Att förhålla sig till moderniteten : en studie i Gertrud Liljas författarskap
Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to present and discuss the author Gertrud Lilja with a special focus on her relationship to modernity from a feminist perspective. In the 1920s Lilja was regarded as an interesting and promising author. Ten years later she was seen as a conservative and popular author who wrote mainly for women. As this is the first published thesis that discusses Gertrud Lilja it focuses both on her life, her financial situation and her relationship with her publishers in order to be able to discuss Lilja’s place on the Swedish literary field and on her texts, as I give alternative readings of her novels. Discussing Lilja’s place on the Swedish literary field Pierre Bourdieus theory of cultural capital and habitus are important tools. Lilja made her debut in the 1920s and had then, despite her lack of formal education, despite her rural background and despite her gender, a rather strong cultural capital and was both well received by contemporary critics and was well looked after by her publishers. In the years that followed Lilja lost a great deal of her capital. Her publishers wanted her to write less complicated novels for women, she needed money and wrote a number of short stories for magazines, and the field in itself changed as modernism began grow stronger. Lilja’s text were seen more and more as old fashioned and conservative and she was seen as a popular writer and an uninteresting one. I argue that Gertrud Lilja should be seen as a middlebrow author, a realistic author that has popular elements in her texts. Middlebrow has always been problematic and shunned by many critics and read as simply popular literature. Being a middlebrow author makes is difficult to be taken seriously and Lilja’s critique of her contemporary society and her rather radical critique of a patriarchal religion has not been addressed. Discussing modernity from a feminist perspective and questioning the idea of what it is to be modern, who can be modern and what it means to be conservative, I argue that simply saying that Lilja was a conservative author is not enough. In some ways she gives in her texts a rather harsh criticism of the new and modern society that grow stronger during the 1930-40s, but she also in some ways embraces modernity in her critique of the “good old days” and of the patriarchal religion. Reading Lilja’s texts in dialogue with , for example, the ongoing discussion of women’s new role in society, of sexuality, of religion, images of God and the need for a new kind of church I argue that Lilja shows a great deal of ambivalence towards modernity.
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