Sweden's emergence by 1648 as a great power was not accompanied by comparable literary splendor, but under Queen Christina continental influence helped to bring about a literary renaissance. Georg Stiernhielm (1598–1672) wrote verse that was sophisticated both in form and in content, combining classical idealism with a Gothic strain. The folk songs in medieval style of Lasse Lucidor (1638–74) and the baroque rhymes of Gunno Dahlstjerna (1661–1709) were outstanding among poetical works.
Ideas of the Enlightenment, introduced by Olof von Dalin in the 1730s, spread steadily, and great mystical intellectualism was set forth in the numerous works of Emanuel Swedenborg. The greatest Swedish poet of the age, Carl Michael Bellman, wrote superb verse inspired by traditional Swedish songs. In the reign of Gustavus III, founder of the Swedish Academy in 1786, the important court circle of writers included the eminent poet and critic Johan Henrik Kellgren. The great scientist Carolus Linnaeus also made enormously influential contributions to Swedish literature. Classical standards were upheld by the academy, but the sentimentality of Rousseau and other European writers, strongly defended by Thomas Thorild (1759–1808), began to permeate the middle classes in the late 18th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.