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Det mörka våldet: Spåren av en subjektsprocess i Kerstin Ekmans författarskap
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Dark Violence : Traces of a Subject Process in the Writings of Kerstin Ekman (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the writings of Kerstin Ekman and focuses on twelve of her works. The first is her debut novel 30 meter mord (1959), a detective novel, and the last Knivkastarens kvinna, an epic-lyric story in verse, published in 1990 though written 1984. The works of Kerstin Ekman are of great significance in many respects: one is their concentration on the development of modern society and the place of women in it. At the same time a dark vein of violence can be discerned running through all her writing from the start. The persistent nature of this violence and the field of tension between that motif and the theme of female vulnerability and strength contain psychoanalytical processes from which a subject in process can be analysed, the main aim of this thesis.

The basis of my analysis is both Kristeva’s theory of “sujet en procès”, as presented in Pouvoirs de l’horreur, Histoires d’amour and Soleil noir, and her theories of literature and metaphor. In the early development of the subject Kristeva distinguishes three significant registers: abjection, narcissism and melancholia. Abjection is our most primitive attempt to separate ourselves from the mother by rejecting her, while narcissism is a concept of idealisation of an imaginary father. The idealisation and identification with this father works with abjection towards the essential break from the mother symbiosis. If this break is not fully carried through, the ego can be trapped in melancholia, but abjection and idealisation can be repeated and later carried through in other ways by sublimation in artistic form and poetical language. The literary text, seen in this perspective, is the trace of a renewed subject process.

“The empty room” is shown to be an important recurrent metaphor in the written oeuvre. This metaphor is analysed as a trace of a lingering mother symbiosis, also shown by the fact that abjection and melancholia are expressed in the texts. Gradually melancholia becomes more prominent along with the appearance of masochism. A fundamental change in the subject process is discerned in Knivkastarens kvinna, where a break from mother symbiosis can be analysed. The violence running through the œuvre concerns this need for matricide, first performed in Knivkastarens kvinna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Eslöv: Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion , 2005. , 268 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, Subject in process, abjection, melancholia, idealisation, mother symbiosis, preoidipal father, Oedipal father, literature – psychoanalysis, Kristeva, violence
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-4762ISBN: 91-7139-683-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-4762DiVA: diva2:165669
Public defence
2005-02-05, Erik Gustaf Geijer-salen, (sal 6-1023), Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3P, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2005-01-13 Created: 2005-01-13Bibliographically approved

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