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Hjalmar Gullberg och bysantinismen – ”som paradoxer i tid och rum”
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Hjalmar Gullberg and Byzantinism - "as paradoxes of time and space" (English)
Abstract [en]

The relation between modern Western literature on the one hand and Byzantine themes and aesthetics on the other has not yet been satisfactorily examined. This dissertation presents a study of the relation between the work of the modern Swedish poet Hjalmar Gullberg (1898-1961) and Byzantinism. Byzantinism is defined here by its Christian element, as a Hellenistic-Christian and Hellenistic-Oriental synthesis with a strong emphasis on the aesthetic aspect of the Orthodox Church, and is understood as the lowest common denominator of the former Byzantine and modern Orthodox cultures. To this aim, the Byzantine semiotic theory of the Orthodox icon is applied to Byzantine liturgy, mosaics and hymns, as well as to Gullberg's modern poems.

Gullberg's contact with Byzantinism is shown to be extensive and complex: it includes travels to Greece, Istanbul and Sicily in 1932 and in the 1950's, during which he celebrated Orthodox Easter and visited Byzantine Churches; his 1941 translation of a Byzantine kontakion on the birth of Christ by Romanos Melodos (6th century), based on a Danish translation by the scholar Carsten Høeg; readings in Pseudo-Dionsysios the Areopagite; and, in the late 1940's and 1950's, translations of the modern Greek poets Sikelianos, Seferis and Cavafy, for whom Byzantinism was already an important issue. Thus, instead of the supposed gap between ancient and Christian themes in Gullberg's work, a Byzantine continuity is shown, which in turn affects the traditional interpretation of Gullberg's poetry.

In a concluding comparison of the poetics, aesthetics and theology of Romanos and Gullberg, three questions are considered: the concept of time as a paradox of eternity and the present, the representation of Mary as human mother and as Mother of God, and a special kind of literary imagery, expressing the relation between the Divine/Eternal and the human/material, which is discussed here from a semiotic point of view, in connection with the later Byzantine theology of icons. It is shown that while these questions in Romanos' Byzantine hymn have a profound liturgical and theological meaning, in Gullberg's poetry they function as a means of addressing the problem of representation and the mission of the poet as such.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Norma, Skellefteå , 2002. , 290 p.
Keyword [en]
Hjalmar Gullberg, modern Swedish poetry, Byzantinism, Byzantine aesthetics, travel literature, Translation Studies, Romanos Melodos, Carsten Høeg, modern Greek poetry
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-14202ISBN: 91 7217 046-8OAI: diva2:180722
Public defence
2002-02-22, Hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Summary and abstract in English.Available from: 2008-06-19 Created: 2008-06-19 Last updated: 2009-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Bodin, Helena
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Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas
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