Sweden Literature Part 2
Only in the Eighties, after a long training in writing in prose as well as in poetry, did G. Tunström (b.1937) and T. Lindgren (b.1938) gain international fame, both involved, in different ways and with different intentions, in the thematic and stylistic recovery of the oral tradition of their land. Having overcome the realistic narrative structure, they broaden both horizons of their narration, making a village and provincial context (located respectively in Värmland and western Bosnia) the metaphor of the human condition, but with a very different assumption. In Juloratoriet (1983; trad. It., Christmas Oratory, 1988), Tunström, whose reference points are the countryman Sweden Lagerlöf and G. García Márquez, finds his Macondo in the town of Sunne, making it the center of convergence of possible itineraries of survival and liberation, in an atmosphere of magical realism and mild, affectionate humor. Unlike Lindgren, not unaware of the recent acquisitions of the philosophy of language, he gives emblematic value to the condition of closure, of isolation of the characters through harsh, archaic language, borrowed from the memory of the oral fabulation of biblical motifs and from the Old Testament preaching of his childhood. This appears in the novel Ormens väg på hälleberget (1982; it., The Path of the Serpent on the Rock, 1983), where the words of the protagonist Jani take up Job’s anguished question about the reason for the evil he suffered, as in the village tales of Merab skönhet (1983; transl. It., The beauty of Merab, 1989), in which faith in the meaning of the words it leads to tragic or comic outcomes from time to time. After proving his capacity for linguistic creation, outside of any dialectal reworking, in the refined biblical pastiche Bat Seba (1984; it., Bathsheba, 1988), Lindgren returns to his far north with the novel Ljüset (1987, “The light”), where a mystical, unequal struggle by symbolic characters takes place to overcome the chaos of existence.
The renewed taste for storytelling and freedom with respect to matter is also evident in some of the many literary biographies that appeared in the 1980s. A recent example of the search for the autonomy of the text is the “ novel ” Byron (1988) by Sweden Combüchen (b.1942), where the fictitious reconstruction of the poet’s life alternates with his image, recreated one hundred and fifty years after birth from a group of admirers. Focusing on the process of writing is instead the primary intent of the controversial biography August Strindberg (1979) by O. Lagerkrantz (b.1911), a protagonist of the Swedish cultural debate since the 1960s, who had shown proof of narrative skills, as well as criticism, in the essay on Dante Från Helvetet til Paradiset (1964; trans. Writing like God, 1983), a capacity that he expresses with greater awareness in his ” novel ” Färd med Mörkrets Hjärta (1987, “Traveling with the Heart of Darkness”), a contemporary reinterpretation of Conrad’s work. His personal roots as a writer are evoked in the autobiography Min första Kreds (1982; Italian translation, My first circle, 1985); partially autobiographical is also Om konsten att lesa och skriva (1985; trad. it., The art of reading and writing, 1987), where memories and reading experiences merge with critical reflections. The operation of I. Bergman (b.1918) is not very different,(1982), in which facts and moments of childhood emerge, in Laterna magica (1987; trans. It., Lanterna magica, 1987) traces the role of theater in one’s artistic training. Autobiographical traits also in Bilder (1990; trans. It., Images, 1992), while in Den goda viljan (1991, “Good intentions”) and in Söndagsbarn (1993; trans. It., Born on Sunday, 1993) family memories. Equally merciless towards his parents, but far more controversial, J. Myrdal (b.1927) in the three-volume autobiography En barndom (1982-89, “A childhood”) vigorously criticizes the progressive education model of parents A. and KG Myrdal, undisputed protagonists of Swedish social democracy. Personal memories and controversy merge again in En mekkano-poike berättar (1988, “A Meccano-boy tells”).
Other writers, such as Jersild and Delblanc, question their childhood, while the actor and playwright E. Josephson (b. 1923) dedicates the autobiography Rollen (1989, “The role”) to his theatrical life. More serene childhood atmospheres in Barnsben (1986, “Infanzia”) by L. Ardelius (b. 1926) and in Svarta villan (1987, “Villa nera”) by E. Brunner (b. 1950). And it is precisely an autobiography, albeit fictitious, which marks the return to literature, after more than twenty years, of L. Ahlin, with the novel Din livsfrugt (1987, “The fruit of your life”).
In the last decade we have witnessed – in fiction as in lyric, alternatively experienced by the majority of new writers – the explosion of an intense and chaotic literary activity, generally aimed at the construction of imaginary worlds, which derive their reality solely from the text. Dulling all ideology, we pass from relativism to the denial of any objective reality; and if at times the attention to writing comes to virtuosity, at other times the desire to merge genres and styles in bold mixtures dominates.
Among the novice writers who enjoy the favor of the public and critics we remember M. Kandre (b. 1962), a true artist of the word, creator of poetic and delicate timeless legends and careful interpreter of child psychology; Sweden Larsson, already remembered as a poet, darling of the younger generations as U. Lundell (b. 1949), defined as the ” Swedish Kerouac ”, hero of the rock world; K. Östergren (b. 1955), prolific novelist and attentive to jargon and youth issues; P. Nilsson (b. 1937), former professor of astronomy and author of popular scientific works, who traces the myth of creation in Arken (1982, “The Ark”); P. Odensten (b. 1938), who expresses his interest in the irrational in Gheel (1981), visionary experimentation conducted on different temporal levels. Public favor and high hopes on the part of the critics are met by P. Kihlgård (b. 1953), who in the novel Fader Teiresias vår (1988, “The Spring of Tiresias”) proves to be a skilled manipulator of myths by chasing the figure of the soothsayer Tiresias through different worlds and times.
In the field of theater, after a decade of attempts and political and experimental representations, PO Enquist, who in his plays (Tribadernes natt, 1975, trans. It., La notte delle Tribadi ; Fra regnörmarnas liv, 1981, it., From the life of the rain snakes: both presented in Italy, have as protagonists respectively A. Strindberg and HC Andersen) proves, as already in fiction and non-fiction, a brilliant manipulator, in a current key, of documents of the past; and L. Noren (b. 1944), who after suffering paths in the context of an intense and in-depth poetic research chooses theater as the “only possible way of confrontation”, and amazes and conquers with powerful and dark family dramas of our time (which take place, conventionally, between the suffocating walls of a bourgeois living room, but draw their strength from the novelty of the language, daily and incisive and at the same time dominated by a rhythm of silences and repetitions capable of bringing tension to unbearable dramatic, such as Modet att döda (1980, ” En fruktansvärd lykka (1981, “A terrible happiness”), Natten är dagens mor (1983, “The night is the mother of the day”, presented in Italy in 1988), immediately followed by Kaos är granne med Gud (1989, “Il chaos is close to God “), translated into Italian with the title of Quattro quartets (1995), and by En dags varelsen (1990,” Existences of a day “), a drama no longer of a family but of a generation that after the collapse of the ideologies of the new left wonders about the usefulness of their own life.