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Ungkarlsflickor, kamrathustrur och manhaftiga lesbianer: Modernitetens litterära gestalter i mellankrigstidens Sverige
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Literature and History of Ideas.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Bachelor Girls, Companionate Wives, and Mannish Lesbians : Literary Representations of Modernity in Interwar Sweden (English)
Abstract [en]

Women´s emancipation created and was created by modernity. During the Swedish interwar period this process was depicted in contemporaneous novels written by and about women. These novels make up about three per cent of the fictional prose published at the time, but they still constitute a blind spot in Swedish literary history. Therefore this study has the character of basic research. It aims, moreover, to analyse representations of femininity. Specific attention is paid to the figures of the Bachelor Girl, the Mannish Lesbian, and the Companionate Wife.

These representations can all be placed under the heading of the New Woman. During the interwar period the New Woman, in capital letters, developed into everyday new women. On the one hand, this development implied a move towards traditional constructions of femininity. On the other hand, it became necessary to get rid of the New Woman, a sign that previously possessed political force but now was rendered banal and commodified. The time had come for women to be subjects in their own complex (hi)stories.

This is exactly what happens in the three main novels of this study, namely Ulla Bjerne´s Ingen mans kvinna (No Man´s Woman) from 1919, Margareta Suber´s Charlie from 1932, and Ester Lindin´s Tänk, om jag gifter mig med prästen! (What if I Married the Vicar!) from 1940. In Ingen mans kvinna the female character pursues a career as an author, and the novel is suggested to be Sweden´s first genuine female ”Künstlerroman”. But as such, the male has to be literally sacrificed. In Charlie, the first Swedish novel with a lesbian protagonist, the reductive categorisations of homosexual women are transcended. But as yet, the novel could not provide words to describe women taking sexual initiatives. In Tänk, om jag gifter mig med prästen! the main character demands - and receives - social acceptance for both herself and her illegitimate child. But she is subdued during the process.

Nevertheless, new women were now integrated as self-evident participants in the modern society of interwar Sweden, of which the contemporaneous novels by and about women were part and parcel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Eslöv: Symposion Brutus Östlings bokförlag, 2002. , 247 p.
, Kulturhistoriskt bibliotek
Keyword [en]
female writers, interwar period, contemporaneous novels, Swedish literary history, gender studies, cultural studies, the New Woman, new women
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115828ISBN: 91-7139-552-0OAI: diva2:800333
Public defence
2002-04-19, E10, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-04-10 Created: 2015-04-02 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Fjelkestam, Kristina
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