David Anthin, Bohuslän as a Literary Meeting Place: The Transformation of a Physical Landscape into a Literary One in Evert Taube's "Inbjudan till Bohuslän".
The essay discusses Evert Taube's poem "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" ("Invitation to Bohuslän") from the collection Ballader i Bohuslän (Ballads from Bohuslän) of 1943. My purpose is to place the poem in a specific tradition by way of a thematic analysis, while biographical aspects are also considered where relevant. "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" is read as a metapoetical treatise, in which a dialogue with broad poetic traditions is established. Taube proposes to give the province of Bohuslän on the Swedish west coast a new literary guise. Male Viking-heroism gives way to a feminine and maternal ideal. At the same time a childhood landscape is newly presented to Rönnerdahl as poet, according to the literary ideals he—as the invited guest—himself harbours and champions.
First and foremost, I argue that the poem's dialogue is characterized by an affnity with literary traditions. Further, Taube's own, biographically verifiable experiences are shown to underlie the text, although they have successively been toned down or symbolically reshaped during the many drafts of the poem.
Taube stresses the idyllic aspects of Bohuslän. He showcases a cultivated and sheltered landscape in a way similar to the previous, 1890s generation of Swedish authors: Selma Lagerlöf, Verner von Heidenstam, and Erik Axel Karlfeldt. Thus Taube also turns his back on a dominant aesthetic of the Swedish 1880s, with its emphasis on a harsh and deterministic coastal environment. At length this Taubian critique of the 1880s transforms into a criticism also of Modernism.
Taube further conducts a dialogue with the pastoral poetry of antiquity. The essay proposes that the poet is influenced by a pastoral mode in "Inbjudan till Bohuslän". Paul Alpers' research into the nature of pastoral provides the prime structure for this section. Alpers reasons that the pastoral speaker lacks the strength to control the conditions of his or her world, and only governs in the realm of song. The pastoral process (as originally identified by William Empson) also reflects a movement from the complex to the simple, and Alpers shows how this works in Wordsworth's poem "The Solitary Reaper" (1807). Here the Romantic poet hears a rustic girl's working ditty and wishes to experience a pastoral transformation. In "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" the poet's urge to Rönnerdahl is much the same, as Wordsworth's singing girl has a sister also in the landscape of Bohuslän. Her name is Karin Johansson, and she is meant to give voice to Rönnerdahl's ballads.
"Inbjudan till Bohuslän" also recalls Horace and his prizing of seclusion. A study of several drafts of the poem (in the Evert Taube archives, Gothenburg University Library) shows that this classic influence is successively muted. On a deeper thematic and modal level, however, a proximity to Horace remains striking.
With Mikhail Bakhtin one may further conclude that an idyllic chronotope pervades Taube's poem. A cyclic chronology is hailed in the landscape of peaceful dales among rocky hills and cliffs. By the same token there is no evidence of a sentimental yearning for a lost landscape—the one evoked is constantly at hand, and also available for the future. The idyll in "Inbjudan till Bohuslän" can therefore be described as progressive.
The poem has a darker streak in a theme of mortality. The poet, however, finds solace in a dialogue with Shakespeare and Horace, who give promises of eternal life for poetry: Ars longa, vita brevis.
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2000. Vol. 121, 114-136 p.