Catrine Brödje, Women's death by drowning. A literary motif at the turn of the century 1900
The picture of a dead woman was a common motif around the previous turn of the century. In the four literary texts that I am studying in this essay, a woman drowns. The texts are Georg Heym's poem "Die Tote im Wasser", Bertolt Brecht's ballad "Vom ertrunkenen Mädchen", Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening and Anna Lenah Elgström's short story "Det sjungande barnet".
It is strange that women's death by drowning is a common motif in these four different texts published between 1899 and 1927 in Sweden, Germany and the United States. It may be a coincidence, but the common motif is there and therefore calls for a comparison.
Brecht's, Heym's, Chopin's and Elgström's texts are read in the light of the changed gender order, which was a result of the discourse on modernity in the early 1900s, and thereby the different gendered views on the motif women's death by drowning are made visible. The essay will explore the possibility of letting female and male writers establish a dialogue, where both the female and the male voices are heard instead of stopping at the fact that the motif of women's death by drowning becomes solely a male monologue.
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2002. Vol. 123, 111-129 p.