This dissertation is a monograph of one of the most widely read popular books in Sweden atthe end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It was published in 1862as a serial story, in 1863 as a book, and has appeared in ten editions, the latest published in1962.
The form of description may be characterized as hermeneutical with studies of the text of the allegory and its context from a literary, social, church historical, and theologicalpoint of view. The biography of the author has also been studied, Mainly three perspectiveshave been explored.
The Perspective of History of Literature
The novel has its background in the literary publicity of the revival movements, and the allegorical tradition, as well as in the author's academic studies and his religious conversion.The text of this allegory developed during a period of thirty years. The content of the bookis compared with Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and attention is paid to the differences.The qualities of the novel as an allegory, its code system, and its linguistic style, as well asits biblical intertextual relations, are analysed.
The Societal Perspective
The analysis of content deals with the life scenario of the novel, existential places, and pluralistic perspectives of culture. The symbolic names of the main characters and what theyrepresent are analysed. The social narrative depicts the rich and the poor, in spirit as well asin society. Waldenström opposes selfrighteousness and work piety, and breaks away fromtrends and tendencies of his time. One chapter deals with the emotionalism of the allegory,the revival movement, and culture.
The Theological Perspectives
This allegory could be interpreted as a compendium of fundamental ideas of neo-evangelism.That is proved by comparison with C. 0. Rosenius and Martin Luther Its central theme is theissues of law and grace, sin and forgiveness. References to conditions within church andsociety are analysed. Special attention is paid to the criticism by High Church and LowChurch representatives with regard to Waldenström's depiction of law, and his application ofgrace on people practising masturbation. He was accused of antinomism and heresy. The statements of the allegory concern ing church, philosophy and theology are analysed. Finally, thedissertation deals with Waldenström`s reinterpretation of God, and the doctrine of atonement, during the 1870´s, and the resulting changes in his allegory.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1997. , 327 p.