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Segrarnas sorgsna eftersmak: Om autenticitetssträvan i Stig Larssons romaner
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Comparative Literature and Scandinavian Languages.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Victors’ Melancholy Aftertaste : The Struggle for Authenticity in Stig Larsson’s Novels (English)
Abstract [en]

At the heart of this thesis are the Swedish author Stig Larsson’s novels: Autisterna (The Autistic, 1979), Nyår (New Year, 1984), Introduktion (Introduction, 1986) and Komedin I (The Comedy I, 1989). The purpose is to illuminate how certain central activities in the novels contribute strongly to the actual formation of these works. A part of this purpose is demonstrating that these central activities can be related to fundamental thinking in the writer’s authorship that concerns a struggle for authenticity. In terms of theory I connect principally to Jean-Pierre Richard’s thematic criticism. The purpose of the thesis, the theoretical considerations and a presentation of Stig Larsson form the first chapter.

The second chapter discusses Larsson’s aesthetic points of departure, where a recurring striving after authenticity and change stand in focus. The chapter begins by placing Larsson’s authorship in relation to a late-modernistic literary tradition. Next it is emphasised that this authentic attitude often stands on a collision course with a harmonising and anti-modernistic view of literature, associated with György Lukács, which was common in Sweden in the 1970s when Larsson debuted as an author. The chapter ends with a rough description of the three most important elements of Larsson’s quest for authenticity: insignificant phenomena, everyday activities and painful experiences.

The third chapter concerns the insignificant and minimal activities that are such a dominant element in Larsson’s novels. First comes an analysis of the ”small moments” observed during a train journey by the protagonist of Autisterna, and then a comparison is made with literary impressionism. The chapter then focuses on: the peripheral spatial dimension, the odd moments in time, the slow movement and, finally, ”the view of an uninterrupted nothing”. Given Larsson’s aversion to a harmonising and grandiose literature, these insignificant phenomena are a clear element in his struggle for authenticity.

The everyday, the worthless and the ugly are the focus of the fourth chapter. The theme of everyday life is looked at from four different perspectives. The first concerns an ordinary everydayness (food preparation, watching TV and everyday games) and the second the literally worthless and ugly (rubbish and bodily fluids). The third perspective looks in detail at everyday language, and the performative character of dialogue in Larsson’s novels, and the fourth at relations to modern Swedish social developments since the 1960s.

The fifth chapter looks at humiliation, violence and abuse in the novels. I argue throughout that Larsson chooses to touch on phenomena such as humiliation and violence because they show more authentically how real people behave towards each other in real life. Even the way in which these activities are portrayed can be related to ideas concerning authenticity. This is because Larsson generally chooses to portray both violence and humiliation visually and without comment.

The thesis ends with a sixth chapter, which consists of a brief conclusion that shows how ideas concerning authenticity and change can also be related to four autobiographical prose works that Stig Larsson released between 1997 and 2000.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion , 2004. , 326 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, Authenticity, change, late modernism, postmodernism, insignificance, literary impressionism, everyday life, everyday language, performativity, dialogue, ugliness, violence, humiliation, existentialism
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-405ISBN: 91-7139-693-4OAI: diva2:143381
Public defence
Available from: 2005-01-11 Created: 2005-01-11Bibliographically approved

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