German Autumn

Roland Lysell

Abstract


The poetry and prose of the 1940s in Sweden represent one of the peaks in Swedish literature. Poets developed modernist lyric into an intellectually advanced, at the same time very intellectual and very emotive and very dense rhetoric poetry. At the same time a new kind of prose was developed. Stig Dagerman is the only author in this group whose novels have encountered an international audience. He is still very much read, especially in France and Germany. His first work was Ormen (The Snake, 1946), followed by De dömdas ö (Island of the Doomed) in 1946, one of the most important novels of the 20th century. Dagerman had mixed feelings about the role of a journalist. He wrote 570 articles for various newspapers from 1941 to his death 13 years later. He was commissioned by the then fairly new evening newspaper Expressen to Germany in the autumn of 1946 to Germany to write a series of reports about postwar Germany. 13 articles were written and 11 were published. In 1947 these articles appeared as a book with the title Tysk höst (German Autumn), a Swedish classic, reprinted i Collected Writings edited by the Dagerman scholar Hans Sandberg. Dagerman spent two months in Germany, from October 15th (Hamburg) to December 12th (Frankfurt) - five days in Berlin, a week in the Ruhr district, and everywhere he tried to come into contact with so many private persons as possible. Of course he despised the kind of journalist who stays at his hotel and only uses stuff from local newspapers in his report. The material must have been overwhelming and it is question of choice what to publish in the articles. My own aim is to discuss the articles from the view of a literary historian. How does the Germany of 1946 fit into the general aesthetics of the Swedish 1940s?

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