Den svenske mannens gränsland : Manlighet, nation och modernitet i Sven Lidmans Silfverstååhlsvit
Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with the nationalistic imaginary in the novels of Sven Lidman, published 1910–1913. The novels hold forth a conservative point-of-view that embraces the bourgeois ideal of masculinity and the idea of the healthy, Swedish rural way of life as opposed to the destructive metropolis. This dualism is part of a dichotomy that structures the novels. It also entails continuity/fragmentation, the Swedish/the foreign, men/women, activity/ passivity as well as masculinity/femininity and unmanliness.In the Silfverstååhl-cycle the protagonists are young men of a noble, Swedish family. They progress from lost and introspective youths to grown men who are deeply concerned with and engaged in society. They are different representatives of the Swedish man – the farmer, the business man, the explorer and the clergy man. What unites them is how their “coming of age” develops, how through trial and struggle they become stronger and prove worthy of the manly role they finally take on. This is a major principle of the bourgeois masculinity that is also closely connected to the national identity of the men.There is also an ambiguity concerning modernity. Throughout the novels a critique of modern society is formulated, that acknowledges the modern age but simultaneously takes on a prudent attitude towards modern society. There is no going back for the Swedish nation; the modern times have to be confronted. The present is very important since it is the time for scrutiny. The handling of the modern era takes place in the developing processes of the young men, who have to be careful not to get trapped in the modern whirlpool that threatens to shatter the human being. The past, the familiar and the rural anchorage that the family relation entitles, is a defense against the destructive forces of modernity. But the past is not completely beneficial. Even though the past is of major importance to the national identity of the protagonists, they have to be very careful not to delve too much into the past because of the risk of paralysis and effeminization. In the nationalistic narrative the present encapsulates the past and the future. The Swedish man has to navigate in the borderland of modernity.
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