Minne, jag, 1800. Litterär självframställning hos Atterbom, Geijer, Widerberg and Heidenstam

Sammanfattning: Both the idea of the self and the idea of memory went through significant changes in the 18th and 19th centuries – developments that in important ways were driven by, and showcased in, the different forms of autobiographical expression popular during this period. With the aim of studying the Swedish context in this regard, the thesis describes a number of typical situations and thematic structures characterizing the relationship between self and memory in four works of ‘self-writing’ from the 1800s: P.D.A. Atterbom’s ‘Minnes-runor’ (Eulogies, 1807–37), Erik Gustaf Geijer’s Minnen. Utdrag ur bref och dagböcker (Memories. Excerpts from Letters and Diaries, 1834), Henriette Widerberg’s En skådespelerskas minnen (The Memories of an Actress, 1850–51), and Verner von Heidenstam’s Hans Alienus (1892).The first chapter investigates the way in which memory is conceived within the elegiac framework of Atterbom’s funerary poem ‘Minnes-runor’. Here, the influence of Johan Henrik Kellgren’s later poems is emphasized. I argue that Kellgren in his pre-Romantic mode not only provides the basic form and imagery to ‘Minnes-runor’, but also establishes a prototypical model for remembering the past in the light of loss. Equally important to the Romantics is the way Kellgren understands memory and imagination as a poetic substitute for experience.The second chapter turns to the case of Geijer and his collage-styled life narrative Minnen. I propose that Geijer’s autobiography exemplifies a new conception of the self in relation to the public sphere that later becomes crucial to the development of genre in Sweden. Geijer does not write primarily with the intention of cementing an image of the author for future generations, but, instead, to deal with personal issues in the present.This subject is further elaborated in the third chapter where I discuss the autobiography of Henriette Widerberg. Her work, I suggest, is ‘theatricalized’ on two different levels: firstly, in the way the text relates to dramatic discourse and mimics the world of performing arts, and secondly, in the way the author tries to achieve a tangible real-life effect through the publication of the book. Turning her work into a stage and likening her readers to the theatregoers of her heyday, Widerberg demands a response from the audience – a longing for recognition that in turn reads as a function of the literary public sphere and its specific incarnation in 1850s Sweden.Finally, in the fourth and final chapter, we return to the Romantic ideas initially discussed, but in inverted form. Problematizing the obsession with memory, Heidenstam – in line with the major European movements in literature and philosophy during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries – proposes a form of recollection thoroughly infused with oblivion. While Heidenstam sometimes has been regarded as a post-Romantic, I argue that his conception of remembrance should, on the contrary, be understood as an immanent critique of the Romantic project. This in turn relates him to the Swedish modernists of the 1940s, a group of writers who, although profoundly anti-Romantic in their stance, show a similar kinship with the era and movement in question.

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