En möjlig värld: En tematisk studie av Lars Gustafssons 1990-talsromaner

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


"En möjlig värld" explores how questions of moral standards and ontology are discussed explores how questions of moral standards and ontology are discussed and represented in three of Lars Gustafsson's novels in a search for a world that is conceivable - in terms of moral philosophy, as well as ontology. Initially, a theoretical foundation is constructed, based on the assumption that fictional texts are linguistic phenomena that mainly refer to the worlds they themselves create. By establishing these fictional worlds, and by relating them to the experience-based world, the reader construes the meaning(s) of the text. This theoretical model constitutes a prerequisite for identifying that the worlds in Gustafsson's novels go through fundamental ontological changes, changes that constitute the peaks and turning points of their thematic developments.

A thematic line is found to run through the three novels: In "Historien med hunden" (1993), the theodicy problem turns out to be unsolvable in the Jewish-Christian, monotheistic ontology, and a search for a new ontology that could provide a logically acceptable foundation for universally relevant moral standards, begins. Eventually, a dualistic Gnostic ontology, is established. Unfortunately, in the Gnostic world of "Tjänarinnan" (1996), the individual turns out to be lonely, alienated, and fragmented. A solution to this problem is found as the Gnostic view of the world is replaced by a monistic ontology. "Windy berättar" (1999) explores the question of what death is in such a monistic ontology where each individual thing is part of the same whole. Spinoza's concept of death as a constant process of change, and as a constitutive part of life, is presented, and the novel ends with the realization that after coming to terms with what death really is, one has to stop thinking about the past and start living in the present.

Finally, in the concluding chapter of "En möjlig värld", a context of pre-Millennial a context of pre-Millennial beliefs and expressions is delineated. It is shown how Gustafsson's novels relate to this context, as well as to the tradition of literary Apocalypse. Also the positive function of the Apocalypse as the means to a new beginning, or rebirth, is discussed and compared to the destruction, and construction, of ontological foundations for the worlds of the novels.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • literary theory, General and comparative literature, Fictional truth, fictional worlds, moral standards, ontology, theodicy, the Deluge, Gnosticism, monism, death, the Underworld, Memory Palaces, Millennial beliefs, Apocalypse, Michael Riffaterre, Anselm of Canterbury, Paul de Man, literature criticism, Ramon Llull, Spinoza., Nordiska språk (språk och litteratur), Scandinavian languages and literature, Allmän och jämförande litteratur, litteraturkritik, litteraturteori
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Jan 11
  • Gidlunds förlag
Print ISBNs91-7844-621-X
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2003-01-11 Time: 10:15 Place: Edens Hörsal, Lund, Sweden External reviewer(s) Name: Dübois, Ia Title: Professor Affiliation: Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA ---