Swedish literature

The Nineteenth Century

When romanticism flowered in the golden age of Swedish poetry (c.1820–1840), the movement became Germanic in character and conservative in tone; many of its themes were taken from folk culture. Historical and folk interests are typified by the work of A. A. Afzelius. Three of the finest romantic poets were Erik Geijer, Per Atterbom, and Esaias Tegnér.

The tales of C. J. L. Almquist show the development of Swedish prose and also serve to divide the declining romantic movement from the literary ferment of the 1840s. By mid-century a mild utilitarianism and social criticism, modeled along English lines, was prevalent in Swedish literature and journalism. Fredrika Bremer gained international renown as a reporter, author, and activist for women's rights. Another major spokesman for an idealistic vision was the philosopher Abraham Viktor Rydberg.

The first true realism appeared with the dramatist August Strindberg and a group of writers called the Young Sweden, among them Victoria Benedictsson and Gustaf af Geijerstam. They were followed by a movement toward creative individualism. Verner von Heidenstam was an aristocratic exponent of personal expression, and the poet Gustaf Fröding and the novelist Selma Lagerlöf followed equally personal paths.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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