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Krig och kultur i konservativ och radikal belysning: Annie Åkerhielm och Frida Stéenhoff från sekelskiftet till första världskriget
2005 (Swedish)In: Samlaren: tidskrift för svensk litteraturvetenskaplig forskning, ISSN 0348-6133, Vol. 126, 97-150 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Claes Ahlund, Krig och kultur i konservativ och radikal belysning. Annie Åkerhielm och Frida Stéenhoff från sekelskiftet till första världskriget. (War and Culture in a Conservative and a Radical Light: Annie Åkerhielm and Frida Stéenhoff from the Turn of the Century to the First World War.)

The purpose of the essay is to discuss the conceptions of war and of contemporary society and culture put forward in the writings of two diametrical political opposites: the conservative Annie Åkerhielm (1869–1958) and the radical feminist Frida Stéenhoff (1865–1945). Åkerhielm and Stéenhoff both engaged in the debate on war and culture by publishing a number of pamphlets and polemic articles, but they were also writers of fiction. Åkerhielm published novels, short stories and poetry; Stéenhoff, a number of plays, but also some novels.

Annie Åkerhielm and Frida Stéenhoff represent different political parties: Åkerhielm, the conservative and pro-German nationalists; Steenhoff, the radical liberal pacifists. Åkerhielm advocates the value of war and stresses the individual’s duty to subordinate himself to the state, opinions closely related to those of anti-democratic and anti-liberal thinkers such as Rudolf Kjellén and Werner Sombart and propagated as "The Ideas of 1914". Stéenhoff, on the other hand, upholds a radical interpretation of the tradition of the Enlightenment, emphasizing the rights and liberty of the individual, including women, and embracing an optimistic theory of evolution. This makes her a pronounced representative of the antagonistic tradition, "The Ideas of 1789", identified by Kjellén as a major threat to the well-being of the nation.

The outbreak of the war, being a major setback for international cooperation and the peace movement, temporarily caused Frida Stéenhoff to mistrust her own faith in progress and the final triumph of her ideals of love, peace, and liberty. At the end of the war, Annie Åkerhielm suffered a similar dejection caused by the collapse of Germany and the ideals and the culture it represented. Stéenhoff’s reactions are discussed with the novel Ljusa bragder och mörka dåd (1915) ("Bright feats and dark deeds"), the pamphlet "Krigets herrar – världens herrar! (1915) ("The lords of war — the lords of the world"), and the essay "Den nya moralen och Ellen Key som dess tolkare" (1919, "The new morality and Ellen Key as its interpreter") as a point of departure. The discussion of Åkerhielm’s reactions to the war centres on the poem "Emden" (1914), the collection of short stories, Sagor och fantasier (1915, "Tales and fantasies"), the pamphlet Antidemokratiska stämningsstunder (1917, "In the anti-democratic mood"), and the novel Anno Domini (1921).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2005. Vol. 126, 97-150 p.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-172628OAI: diva2:515232
Available from: 2012-04-12 Created: 2012-04-12

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