Jordens dotter : Selma Lagerlöf och den tyska hembygdslitteraturen

Ann-Sofi Ljung Svensson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This dissertation studies the reception of the works of the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf in Germany at the turn of the century 1900. Selma Lagerlöf was introduced into the German book market in 1896, with a translation of her first novel, “The Saga of Gosta Berling”. She was well received by the German press and had after only a couple of years managed to get herself an impressive readership, which remained faithful throughout her life and long after her death. No other country besides Sweden was so commercially receptive to her works as Germany.
The aim of this study is to examine the reception of Lagerlöf’s works in German literary periodicals from her début 1891 until 1905, when she must be regarded as a well-established author in Germany; 124 articles published 1896 to 1905 have been analysed. The theoretical base for the study is the aesthetical reception theories formulated by Hans Robert Jauß, especially the concept of “Horizons of expectations”: In the turn of the century Germany these horizions of expectations were informed by a polarization between antimodern and modern ideological forces. In the literary debate this polarization manifested itself in the form of two more or less easily identifiable value discourses; on the one hand an active resistance against the naturalistic and modern, “decadent”, literature and equally active support for an idealistic literature; on the other hand an active resistance against modern naturalistic, “decadent” literature, and equally active support for an idealistic literature; on the other hand an affirmation of the naturalistic school and other modern literary movements and a repudiation of the predominant idealism.
The study focuses on the importance of the so-called homeland art movement. Die Heimatkunstbewegung, for the early Lagerlöf-reception in Germany. This movement could be interpreted as a manifestation of the idealistic and reactionary currents in imperial Germany.
With a method inspired by discourse analysis the study examines the critical reviews and essays on Lagerlöf in German literary periodicals, focusing on the use of the homeland art movements key concepts: “the mysticism of the soil” (Erdmystik), “the soulfulness” (Innerlichkeit) and “the whole personality” (die ganze Persönlichkeit).
The study shows that Selma Lagerlöf was univocally put into an anti-naturalistic, neo-romantic context by the critics and demonstrates how her texts were instrumentalized and put to use in the struggle of discourses. Selma Lagerlöf was made into an ally of the homeland art movement and it’s aspirations.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Languages and Literature
  • Sjöblad, Christina, Supervisor
Award date2011 Oct 22
ISBN (Print)978-91-7061-098-1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2011-10-22
Time: 10:15
Place: Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Sundberg, Björn
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Uppsala universitet


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Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature


  • Antimodernity
  • die Heimatkunstbewegung
  • The homeland art movement
  • Horizons of expectations
  • Hans Robet Jauss
  • German 19th century literature
  • Swedish literature
  • Turn of the century 1900
  • Germany
  • Literary criticism
  • Discourse analysis
  • Reception study
  • Selma Lagerlöf

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