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Från sonett till drömtext: Gunnar Björlings väg mot modernismen
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Literature and History of Ideas.
2004 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
From sonnet to dream text : Gunnar Björling’s road to Modernism (English)
Abstract [en]

The subject of this dissertation is the Finland-Swedish author Gunnar Björling (1887-1960) and his journey towards Modernism. The principle thesis of this dissertation, the idea that Björling’s distinctive language cannot be understood without an underlying modernistic current, is outlined in Chapter I. It also discusses the idea that Modernism cannot be reduced to a matter of style, but encompasses particular values, ideological stances and practical matters, such as the forming of alliances, writing manifestos and publishing journals.

Chapter II examines how and why Björling came to be regarded as a modernist. A strongly contributing factor was Björling’s language, which from the very first violated prevailing ideas on acceptable forms of expression. The fact that he published his first book through the modernist publishing firm Daimon, and contributed to its journal Ultra, further confirmed his modernistic placing.

Chapter III focuses on Björling’s unpublished juvenilia from the 1910’s. The young Björling wrote traditional rhyming verse but was also influenced by writings of a more symbolistic and modern character. The chapter concludes with a study of bizarrerierna, Björling’s dream notes, originally written during the 1910’s but first published in 1928. With their bold enjambments and highly compressed form, these notes came to influence the continued development of his lyrical imagery.

Chapter IV deals with his debut Vilande dag (Resting day) (1922) and its symbolistically coloured language problematic. Björling struggled to find a language that would convey his experience of the limitlessness of being, a language striving to transcend words, leaving space for silence.

This struggle for the right words continues in the later Korset och löftet (The cross and the promise) (1925) and Chapter V demonstrates how this is connected with the quest for God. In the wake of German Expressionism and Dadaism, Björling adopts a more disjointed syntax and a bolder and more dissonant lyrical imagery. There also occurs a thematic expansion, giving greater prominence to the daily life of the metropolis, a life transformed by media. In accordance with modernistic patterns, Björling chose to end his book with a theoretical epilogue, which is a distinctive collation of life philosophy, anti-clericalism, passionate religiousness, moral-philosophical discussions and aesthetic expositions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2004. , 365 p.
Stockholm studies in history of literature, ISSN 0491-0869 ; 50
Keyword [en]
Gunnar Björling, Finland-Swedish Modernism, Modernity, Symbolism, Expressionism
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-310ISBN: 91-22-02108-6OAI: diva2:192306
Public defence
2004-12-17, Sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-189, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2004-11-25 Created: 2004-11-25 Last updated: 2012-09-10Bibliographically approved

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