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Det mångstämmiga rummet: Hjalmar Bergmans romankonst 1913-1918
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen.
1990 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with the problems of genre and narrative techniques in two novels by the Swedish author Hjalmar Bergman, 1883-1931. Although regarded as one of the foremost novelists in Swedish literature, with novels such as Markurells i Wadköping, 1919, and Farmor och vår Herre, 1921, Bergman's narrative techniques have not previously been systematically analyzed. Instead critics have focussed either on the biographical and philosophical aspects of his work, or on the meaning of his specific use of symbols and metaphorical language.

Hjalmar Bergman wrote more than twenty novels, a large number of plays, short stories, fairy tales and screenplays. His most innovative period was in the 1910s, which is also the period focussed on here. The study begins with the reception of the seven novels written from 1912 to 1918. These novels were considerably different from what the critics at the time were wont to expect. Consequently they had trouble understanding not only the purpose of the narrative techniques in the novels, but also in determining their specific genre and subject matter.

The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that by analyzing Hjalmar Bergman's narrative techniques, we can learn more about the genre of the novel, about its status in the Swedish literary institution of the 1910s, and about Hjalmar Bergman's contribution to its development in Sweden. For this purpose the methods of the Russian theorist of the novel, Mikhail Bakhtin, have proved to be useful.

In the succeeding chapters two novels, Loewenhistorier, 1913 (Loewen Stories) and En döds memoarer, 1918 (The Memoirs of a Dead Man), are analyzed for a deeper understanding of Hjalmar Bergman's specific use of novelistic subgenres such as the adventure story, the picaresque, the Bildungsroman, the confession, the memoir etc. Hjalmar Bergmanhas been considered a 'pre-modernist' in Swedish prose fiction. If this is the case, it is not primarily because hetried to invent new ways of writing novels, but rather that he made use of seemingly well-defined genres, combining them in new and often surprising ways. He thereby investigates not only a subject matter or a protagonist, but also the relevance, with regard to the stories hesets out to tell, of the genre-bound plots and perspectives. The result is novels that are simultaneously highly structured and 'law-abiding', in accordance with their genre patterns, and characterized by a certain open-ended 'brokenness'. Nothing ever turns out as the reader might expect, judging from the genres used in the novels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Hjalmar Bergman samfundet , 1990. , 357 p.
, Skrifter utgivna av Hjalmar Bergman samfundet, ISSN 0284-5202 ; 4
Keyword [en]
Swedish novelist, Mikhail Bakhtin, theory of the novel
Keyword [sv]
Hjalmar Bergman, 1883-1931, analys och tolkning, En döds memoarer, Loewenhistorier
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88521ISBN: 91-87434-03-2OAI: diva2:716183
Public defence
1990-06-01, Hörsal G, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2014-05-08 Created: 2014-05-08 Last updated: 2014-05-08Bibliographically approved

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