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Per Anders Wiktorsson

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  • Den utvidgade människan

    2010. Per Anders Wiktorsson, Ulf Olsson, Claes Ahlund.

    Thesis (Doc)

    The aim of this dissertation is to understand the relation between a given literary work and the specific historical conditions under which it was written. Here, the conditions are those generated by World War II, the threats of Nazism, and the neutrality of Sweden, materialized as restrictions on the freedom of speech and press in Sweden during the war. These conditions are confronted and challenged by Eyvind Johnson’s Krilon Trilogy: the novels Grupp Krilon, 1941 [Group Krilon], Krilons resa, 1942 [Krilon’s Journey] and Krilon själv, 1943 [Krilon Himself].

    Methodologically, the discussion is informed by Foucauldian discourse analysis, the empirical framing of Johnson’s work is based on the sociology of literature, while different interpretative approaches are used for a detailed understanding of the text.

    With the protagonist, Johannes Krilon, as a point of departure, the dissertation analyzes how Johnson in his trilogy incorporates the historical conditions he is facing, and how he is forced both to adjust to them and to invent ways to negotiate, circumvent, and resist them. While Johnson has to observe the discourse of neutrality, he finds ways to make Krilon transcend these limitations by shaping him into a complex hero, constantly forming, re-forming and performing himself, reflecting upon his own shortcomings, and engaging in dialogic relations with his surroundings. In this flexibility, Krilon is construed as a trustworthy teller and provoker of the truth. The restrictions on the freedom of speech and the official politics of neutrality function as an incitement for the author to test the conditions he is writing under, which forces him into an aesthetic experimentation that includes both traditional and modernist strategies of writing, forming the trilogy into a parodical and allegorical machinery. As the central mode of the work, allegory enables Johnson to speak politically, while at the same time distancing his work from the contemporary realistic novel.

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