Landets SångGudinna : Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna och naturdiktens genrer

Alfred Sjödin

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (monografi)


The long poem Skördarne (The HArvest) by johan Gabriel Oxenstierna (1750-1818) was an attempt to do for the Swedish what Virgil had don for the Roman Countryside in his Georgics. However, "georgic poetry" was seldom recognised as a distinct genre by the classical system of poetics, and its relation to neighbouring genres were often unclear. The present study seeks to place Oxenstierna's poem in the genre system of its time, to explore its formal inconsistencies and how they relate to the ideological stakes of representing the Swedish countryside.
The dissertation is divided into two parts where the first part (chapters 1-3) explains the literary and historical background and establishes the problematic that is to be pursued through studying the presence of three different genres in the poem: the didactic (chapter 4), the pastoral (chapter 5) and the epic (chapter 6).
Chapter 1 explains the background to the Georgics' popularity in England, France and Sweden: the prestige of Virgil, the augustan mythology of the rulers, and last but not least the improvement of agriculture are all important factors. Chapter 2 then charts the development of the longer poem of nature in Swedish literature, from the early attempts of Gustaf Philip Creutz to the full-fledged version we find in Oxenstierna. Earlier nature poetry mainly took the form of the ode or the eclogue, but the new poems have a much larger scale. By their combination of lofty ambition and low subject matter they constitute a challenge to the traditional hierarchy of genres. In chapter 3 the pecularities of the form are studied from the point of view of poetic unity. Skördarne shares with other non-epic long poems of its time a certain looseness of organisation. This was censured by critics, but also positively valued as allowing for greater variety. Implicitly, this means a licence to blend genres. This builds the platform for the detailed readings of the following chapters.
Chapter 4 examines the confusion between the "descriptive" and "didactic" forms of poetry, labels that have both been apllied to Oxenstierna's poem. These genres are both present in Skördarne, and the analysis seeks to unearth their respective functions. The didactic elements are realted to the rhetorical ideal of controlling the reader's imagination and ensuring that the depictions of nature are understood in a morally edifying way. What is at stake is a way of representing nature that clearly ties it to mainstream gustavian ideology. Chapter 5 tries to get to grips with the function of the narrative episodes in the poem, and how they make use of a pastoral paradigm of fictional representation. While peasants were often masked as shepherds, in order to signal the hedonistic ease of the countryside, this function comes into conflict with the ideological need of representing the country population as the moral backbone of the state. The changing function between the two versions of the poem are analyzed from this perspective. Chapter 6 investigates the perhaps unexpected presence of epic elements in Skördarne. It is at once criticized as retrogade and violent, yet admired for its "high poetry". While clearly recommending his own kind of nature poetry as an alternative to the heroic poem, Oxenstierna nevertheless incorporates epic traits, mainly on the level of style. This inconsistency is related to the political background of the poem.
The dissertation ends with a discussion meant to clarify the realtion between formal and ideological inconsistencies and sum up the results.
Tilldelande institution
  • Språk- och litteraturcentrum
  • Haettner Aurelius, Eva, handledare
  • Schönström, Rikard, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2014 sep 27
Tryckta ISBN978-91-7061-153-7
StatusPublished - 2014

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2014-09-27
Time: 12:15
Place: Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Fischer, Otto
Title: professor
Affiliation: Uppsala universitet


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Språk och litteratur

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