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Vad kan Borgs armband säga oss? Nietzsche och I havsbandet
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2004 (Swedish)In: Samlaren: tidskrift för svensk litteraturvetenskaplig forskning, ISSN 0348-6133, E-ISSN 2002-3871, Vol. 125, p. 92-111Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Tobias Dahlkvist, Vad kan Borgs armband säga oss? Nietzsche och I havsbandet. (What Can Borg’s Bracelet Tell Us? Nietzsche and I havsbandet [By the Open Sea].)

This essay is an attempt to reinterpret the Nietzschean element in August Strindberg’s novel I havsbandet (1890). Earlier commentators had considered this element to be a response of some kind to Nietzsche’s notion of der Übermensch. In the essay, I argue that since Strindberg probably did not read Also sprach Zarathustra, but did read several other works by Nietzsche where this theme is presented, a reinterpretation which focuses on themes unfolded in the books that he actually did read seems sensible.

One such theme is decadence, a concept of great importance to Nietzsche’s criticism of modern culture. Nietzsche describes modern man as decadent, and his diagnosis is that Christianity in combination with Schopenhauerian pessimism has led him to a way of life where too little attention is paid to what is important in life: the strengthening of the body, for example, and a correct diet. Decadence can manifest itself as asceticism, but also as a love of luxury, as the need for sensual stimulation.

Axel Borg, fishery inspector and protagonist in I havsbandet, combines asceticism and love of luxury in a peculiar way. His approach to morality is remarkably similar to that of Nietzsche — instead of passing judgment, he forms himself into a person who acts in such a way that no regrets are necessary. But this is not enough to save him: through luxury and asceticism he has lost the capacity for overcoming (Überwindung) which is so central to Nietzsche, and which is what distinguishes him from the decadents. Since Strindberg was familiar with the decadence theme in Nietzsche’s thinking, as well as with the French discussion of decadence that Nietzsche took as his starting-point, and since Axel Borg exhibits characteristics that are prominently decadent, I propose a reading of I havsbandet as a response to Nietzsche’s criticism of modern culture, and of Borg as a Nietzschean decadent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2004. Vol. 125, p. 92-111
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-71241OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-71241DiVA, id: diva2:99152
Available from: 2005-04-30 Created: 2005-04-30 Last updated: 2017-11-21

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