The Battle Is Ours! A Study of Olof Fryxell's Snow Castle: a Tale for Countryside Boys and the Revival of Gothicism in 19th Century Swedish Children's Literature.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss the history of children's literature in relation to the cultural movement of Gothicism revitalized by national Romanticism in early 19th century Sweden. The strong tradition of Gothicism has been extensively researched from different historical and literary viewpoints. Much attention has been paid to the construction of masculinity in advice manuals, in connection to the partial return to the sturdy manhood of the Vikings, as well as to the ideological meanings and functions of Ling-gymnastics within the movement. My essay highlights the notion of the child and the importance of children's literature in this context.
The 39 pages long Children's book Snöfästningen: Berättelse för Landt-Gåßar (1830) [Snow Castle: a Tale for Countryside Boys], by the Swedish minister and poet Olof Fryxell (1806– 1900), is here considered a focal point for illustrating the ideological meaning of the child in this specific historical situation. Thus, Snöfästningen can be identified as one of the most important fictional expressions of Gothicism directly intended for young male readers during the first half of the 19th century. Fryxell's depiction of boys playing at soldiers illustrates how a special form of children's literature took form within the movement. This literature, envisioned for children, was made to make and educate future citizens and shows how the idea of childhood permeates the rhetoric of nation and citizenship during the first half of the century.
The historical imaginings of children's play in Fryxell's tale for countryside boys, however, proves to be significant not only for the discursive construction of masculinity and communality that took form within the Gothicism revival. It also systematically sets out to portray the world of the child from a child's perspective. Therefore, Snöfästningen turns out to be an ambivalent example of the complex transition to new corresponding conceptions of realism and Romanticism within the history of Swedish Children's literature
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2013. Vol. 134, 95-116 p.