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Byzantine Literature for Europe? From Karelia to Istanbul with the Swedish Modernist Poet Gunnar Ekelöf
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas, Department of History of Literature.
2009 (English)In: Literature for Europe? / [ed] Theo D'haen and Iannis Goerlandt, Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi , 2009, 363-385 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During the 1950s and 1960s the former notion of Byzantine culture as rigid and artificial turns into a challenge and a complex field of interest for several Western European writers. One of them is the well-known Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelöf (1907–1968), who found Byzantine tradi- tions still alive in Orthodox piety, in Istanbul and Greece, as well as in the Balkans and Karelia. Fascinated by these folk traditions he used ele- ments of Orthodox hymns and icons in his poems, whereby they gained a new function of estrangement with modern Swedish readers and cri- tics. Ekelöf never called himself a Christian – he rather saw himself as an outsider. To him, Byzantium held the desirable position of being located outside of traditional Western aesthetic norms and cultural borders, yet close in time and space. Ekelöf’s work is an intriguing metaphor for this paradoxical role played by the Byzantine tradition in modern European literature, itself a subject in need for further study and discussion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi , 2009. 363-385 p.
, Textxet. Studies in Comparative Literature, 61
Keyword [en]
Byzantine literature, European literature, Gunnar Ekelöf, Orthodox Christian tradition, borderland
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
History of Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32325ISBN: 978-90-420-2716-9ISBN: 978-90-420-2717-6OAI: diva2:280018
Available from: 2009-12-08 Created: 2009-12-08 Last updated: 2009-12-08

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