Swedish Beat

Sture Darlström, Ulf Lundrell and the Influence of the Beat Generation in Modern Swedish Literature

Authored by: Lisa Avdic Öst

The Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415785457
eBook ISBN: 9781315210278
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315210278-17

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Abstract

For a small country of 10 million, albeit with a past that saw it as one of Europe’s most powerful countries, Sweden has managed a cultural repertoire of considerable breadth. Modern names and achievement range from the playwright August Strindberg (1849–1912) and the Nobel Prize winning novelist and poet Pär Lagerkvist (1891–1974) through to the Maj Sjöwall–Per Wahlöö duo whose mysteries won great international success in the 1960s–1970s. One can as easily also turn to the filmmaking of Ingmar Bergman, the acting career of Ingrid Bergman, or the pop music phenomenon of ABBA. But it was August Strindberg—especially in The Red Room (1879), with its story of young men from different classes of society who meet at the Red Room in Berns Salon in Stockholm to discuss the philosophy of life and politics, and who set up a critique of Swedish society like none before them—who anticipates the counter-voice in Swedish literature, with his emphasis on class and inequality. To these names can be added that of Karin Boye and her novel Kallocain (1940), which describes a dystopian world similar to that of George Orwell’s 1984. All these several authors and artists, canonical and popular, supply a legacy within which to place two names who can be said to contend as Swedish literary Beats, Sture Darlström and Ulf Lundell. Other writers from the Swedish literary tradition come into the reckoning, such as the modernist poet Gunnar Harding and the politically extreme novelist Niclas Lundkvist (under the pseudonym Nikanor Teratologen). But it is Darlström and Lundell who give Swedish Beat its symptomatic signature.

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