Ingela Pehrson Berger, Aspects of Reality in Kerstin Ekman's Novel Gör mig levande igen.
In her novel Gör mig levande igen (1996), Kerstin Ekman establishes a peculiar connection between the diegeses of her own novel and of Eyvind Johnson's Krilon trilogy (1941–1943): Eyvind Johnson appears in the fictitious world of Gör mig levande igen, where he is supposed to have met Johan Krylund, one of the characters of Kerstin Ekman's novel, and taken him as a model for his own character Krilon in the Krilon trilogy. This is only one example of the intertextual and metafictional traits that permeate Kerstin Ekman's novel. Some critics have, on this basis, characterised the novel as an example of postmodernist fiction. However, intertextuality and metafiction frequently appear even in modernist literature. In Kerstin Ekman's novel as well as in Eyvind Johnsons's Krilon trilogy, these elements contribute to the great themes of the novels – which is not the case in postmodernist literature.
In this essay I claim that Gör mig levande igen is not a postmodernist but rather a modernist novel. I rely mainly on Brian McHale's distinction between, on the one hand, an epistemological dominant being characteristic for modernism and, on the other hand, an ontological dominant giving postmodernism its stamp. Modernist literature seeks knowledge of Reality, although this knowledge is hard to obtain. Postmodernist literature has lost interest in Reality in its play with the innumerable fictional worlds that may "exist".
In Kerstin Ekman's novel, the search for Reality and meaning of life are important questions addressed. I have analyzed the modernism in this novel by focusing on three kinds of reality: 1.) reality in life (life of society and life of the individual), 2.) reality in literature and 3.) what I call the "other" reality, a reality that exists beyond life and literature.
Kerstin Ekman appears as a serious humanist, deeply involved in questions concerning society and the individual existence. Reality in life is a theme that crystallizes around the main character, Oda Arpman. That old woman is Kerstin Ekman's alter ego in her fight for democratic values.
Reality in literature forms a theme mainly through Sigrid Falk, a young graduate student of literature. She has a naïve sense of literature as the expression of true life and experience. By stressing the conflicting views of the student and her supervisor, Kerstin Ekman takes her stand against the influences of postmodernism in academic studies.
The "other" reality is experienced in certain moments of epiphany. This spiritual reality is neither confirmed nor denied. Still, the mystic experience prevails and evades rational explanation. Does this spriritual reality exist or not?
The epistemological focus on the three kinds of reality bears witness to the modernism of Kerstin Ekman's novel.
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2003. Vol. 124, 158-207 p.