Details

Mobergland. Personligt och politiskt i Vilhelm Mobergs utvandrarserie.

by Liljestrand, Jens, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
This is a thesis on the Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg (1898–1973) and his renowned novel cycle about Swedish emigrants to the U.S.: Utvandrarna (1949), Invandrarna (1952), Nybyggarna (1956) and Sista brevet till Sverige (1959). The novels, set in the mid 19th century, describe Swedish emigration to North America through the main characters of Karl Oskar, Kristina, Ulrika and Robert from the parish of Ljuder in Småland. Starting with portrayals of the Swedish conditions that caused the protagonists to emigrate, the novels continue with their crossing from Karlshamn in Sweden to New York, their journey across America, and their first year as settlers in the area near Chisago Lake, north of Minneapolis. Based on archival research by the author, the novels depict events such as the American Civil War, the Gold Rush and the Panic of 1857 from the viewpoint of the fictional characters. The novels have been enormously popular in Sweden ever since their publication, breaking all previous records for book sales in Scandinavia when first released. As a result of successful film adaptations directed by Jan Troell (»The Emigrants«, 1971 and »The New Land«, 1972) which were nominated for six Academy Awards, and ABBA members Benny Andersson’s and Björn Ulvaeus’s musical »Kristina« in the 1990s, the novels have remained widely read. They have been voted the most popular books of the 20th century, and have decisively shaped the Swedes’ conception of emigration and Swedish awareness of history in general. This dissertation applies a cultural studies perspective to the novels, describing their popularity and their incorporation into the Swedish literary canon, and examining them as a narrative of what it is to be Swedish in the post-war world. Although the works have generally been regarded as »universal« and »timeless«, this study suggests that they are heavily influenced by the spirit of a particular time and reflect the author’s personal life as well as his political agenda, especially his strong criticism of Sweden’s neutrality policy during the early Cold War. It also shows how contemporary family patterns, gender roles and notions about normality and abnormality are reflected in the novels.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Lunds universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Vilhelm (1898-1973); Moberg; autobiography; authorship; Swedish literature; 20th Century; canon (literature); cold war; families; emigrants and immigrants; fiction; immigration; masculinity in literature; neutrality; social criticism

ISBN:978 91 7037 488 3

Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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