From a Swedish perspective, the five authorships investigated in the project are some of the most influential and well received in their time; they illustrate essential periods and dominating genres, such as romantic poetry (Julia Nyberg 1785–1854), the domestic and realistic novel (Fredrika Bremer 1801–1865, Emilie Flygare-Carlén 1807–1892), the drama of the Modern Breakthrough (Anne-Charlotte Leffler 1849–1892); the neo-romanticist and symbolic prose around 1900 (Selma Lagerlöf 1858–1940).
The romantic poetess Julia Nyberg – acknowledged and unread
Under the pseudonym Euphrosyne, Julia Nyberg (1785-1854), became the most successful female poet to be identified with the Swedish romanticist movement. Across the 19th century, she was frequently mentioned in foreign surveys of Swedish literature (encyclopedias, travel literature, introductory articles, literary histories). But the conditions for a female poet of a minor language to be translated and disseminated internationally were not favorable. With the exception of a few translations, the transnational reception of Nyberg’s work during the 19th century is characterized by a ghostlike recycling of brief introductions and valuations, rather than the texts themselves. Her work was then indeed received internationally, although it is highly uncertain that the reception was based on reading. The case of Nyberg will be in the focus of an examination of the logics and workings of such superficial reception as well as a theoretical and methodological discussion of our current understanding of transnational literature, suggesting other functions and significances than impact, influence and ‘quality’.
Feminism on export – Fredrika Bremer’s Hertha (1856) in North America
Fredrika Bremers (1801–1865) was Sweden’s first novelist with an international reputation. Her debut, Sketches from Everyday Life, was published in 1828. The international breakthrough came with the epistolary novel The Neighbours (1837), translated to half a dozen languages and a bestseller especially in England and North America, where Bremer was launched as ”the MISS AUSTIN of Sweden” (translator’s preface in The Neighbours, 1842). All through her career Bremer engaged herself in the woman question. The novel Hertha (1856), written after two years of travelling in North America, Cuba and England, caused a spiteful and mixed debate in Sweden. The purpose of this subproject is to deal with the novel’s international claims, dispersal and reception, the latter foremost i North America. What characterizes the novel’s contemporary history of translation, which performers and publishing houses were involved, and to what degree did Hertha’s feminist message affect the writer’s reputation?
A transnational bestseller-writer from Sweden: Emilie Flygare-Carlén
Emilie Flygare-Carlén (1807-1892) was the most popular and best paid Swedish writer of her time. She wrote twenty-five novels and some of her most popular and translated works are The Rose of Tistelon (1842), Twelve Months of Matrimony (1846), and Woman’s Life (1848). Although she wrote in a minor language, her works were immediately translated into other languages, often via a German translation. In this study, the transnational dissemination of her works will be mapped and analysed to illustrate how popular domestic novels travelled in nineteenth-century Europe. The introduction and reception of her novels in other languages will be examined by comparing translators’ prefaces, introductory articles and reviews. Using digital tools, a number of translations of a certain novel into the same language will be analysed in order to investigate how time and context, as well as gender and position of the translator, colour the literary text and illustrates the adaption to the presumed audiences.
War against society – The European dissemination of Anne Charlotte Leffler’s radical plays
Anne Charlotte Leffler (1849- 1892) belonged to a group of radical Swedish authors of the 1880’s. Together with August Strindberg she was considered one of the front persons of the loosely connected group. She wrote both prose-fiction and plays, questioning social inequality, bourgeois gender norms and marriage. Although radical, her plays were performed at theatres in all the Nordic capital cities. In particular her one-act play ”En räddande engel” (a guardian angel) with the famous actress Ellen Hartman in one of the roles, became popular with the audience. Leffler kept in touch with prominent writers and politicians in many European countries, whom she wrote letters to and also visited, among them Eleonor Marx and Edward Aveling. In this project networks of persons important for disseminating Leffler’s plays in Europe will be focused. Furthermore translations, stagings, reviews and other references in the press will be mapped.
Introducing Selma Lagerlöf – consecrating an author in journals and monographs 1891–1914
Selma Lagerlöf (1858–1940) managed to combine popularity with approval by the literary elite and she is still one of the most translated Swedish authors. In some countries, the reception was immediate and the Nobel Prize 1909 meant biographical articles and new translations in countries where she had not been previously known. In a transnational context her texts seem to have had different functions: in some countries her origin in the province of Värmland was underlined, connecting her with oral storytelling and folklore rather than modernity. In others, the universal moral, religious and existential aspects were emphasized. Contrary to the case of Julia Nyberg, there are reception sources in abundance, and for some countries also research on reception. This case will instead be directed towards the introductions of the author and her works published in journals and monographs 1891–1914, where the gendered tension between the traditional and the modern becomes visible and where the provincial and national are negotiated in a transnational context.