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Motståndets berättelser: Elin Wägner, Anna Lenah Elgström, Marika Stiernstedt och första världskriget
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Narratives of Resistance : Elin Wägner, Anna Lenah Elgström, Marika Stiernstedt, and The First World War (English)
Abstract [en]

War criticism is not just expressed in journalistic and academic writing or in political speeches, but also in literature, such as in novels and short stories. This dissertation analyzes how war criticism is formulated in Swedish fiction written during the First World War (1914–1918). The study combines perspectives from rhetorical, narrative and sociological theory and focuses on how writers resist war through literature, and what characterize these narratives of resistance, thematically and rhetorically.

After a general discussion of the anti-war prose in Sweden, the discussion is focused on the writings of Elin Wägner, Anna Lenah Elgström and Marika Stiernstedt. In addition to their fiction they criticized the war in newspaper articles, pamphlets, lectures and travel books. These non-fictive genres are also an important part of their war criticism, and the comparison between genres is fundamental to the study.

The narratives of war become part of a broader criticism of the social order which includes questions of ethics, ideology, democracy and emancipation. The Swedish war criticism also reveals a struggle of ideologies and values where the opponents – conservatives against liberals and socialists – are not always as distanced from each other as first believed. If literature, following Kenneth Burke, is regarded as a way of naming and encompassing a situation, three main types of narratives can be distinguished: the narrative as witness, as accusation and as exhortation. Each is characterised by certain motives – representations of pain and suffering, of militarism and of the idea of peace – as well as by a particular rhetoric, such as the narrator’s visibility or strategies of identification.

The fictive works analyzed differ from the non-fictive ones by favouring a more pessimist outlook, but also a more searching and complex representation of war. Thereby, the ambiguities and parallel interpretations of fiction counteract a one-sided and superficial understanding of the war.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hedemora/Möklinta: Gidlunds förlag , 2009. , 456 p.
Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, ISSN 0349-1145 ; 58
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-98527ISBN: 9789178447664OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-98527DiVA: diva2:174814
Public defence
2009-04-03, Geijersalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3P, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-03-06 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2009-03-09Bibliographically approved

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