Abstract: Almqvist – berättaren på bokmarknaden. Berättartekniska och litteratursociologiska studier i C.J.L. Almqvists prosafiktion kring 1840.
(Almqvist – the Narrator on the Book Market: Studies in the Narrative Technique of C.J.L. Almqvist and Socio-Literary Aspects of his Prose Fiction from around 1840.)
Johan Svedjedal, Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi
vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, nr 21. 1987
429 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 91-85178-16-0.
(Swedish text with a summary in English.)
The present thesis deals with the Swedish author Carl Jonas Love Almqvist's (1793–1866) conditions as a writer and his activity as a prose narrator around 1840, a period when be gradually became a professional writer. One main objective is to show that the book market thoroughly influenced Almqvist's narratives in terms of form, content, and volume. The study concentrates on narrative technique and socio-literary aspects, combining ideas about Almqvist's accommodation to various groups in the reading public with an analysis of his growing economic independence on the book market. Throughout, Almqvist's various narrative stratagems for captivating and convincing different groups of readers are analyzed.
Chapter 1 outlines the conditions for Almqvist's becoming a professional writer: his dissatisfaction with his position as a schoolteacher, the expansion of Swedish book publishing, his rising renumeration during the 1830s, and his growing success with the public from 1839.
Chapter 2 first deals with Almqvist's interest in the theatre in the 1830s, which was important for his narrative techniques, and his radical "philosophy of pleasure," which was central to his thinking. The focus is then placed on five short stories published by Almqvist himself in 1838: Araminta May, Urnan, Kapellet, Palatset, and Skällnora kvarn. With artistic variation Almqvist molds his libertarian social criticism into forms which could appeal to his conservative, academically trained core audience.
Chapter 3 treats the publisher N.W. Lundequist's series "Folkskrifter", published in 1839–40 for country people who normally read very little. For this series, Almqvist wrote the tales Grimstahamns nybygge, Ladugårdsarrendet, Gustaf Vasa i Dalarne, and Ryska minnet i Norrköping. First, the general outline of the series is analyzed, then Almqvist's connection to the series, the advertising campaigns, the distribution and reception of the series, and the socioliterary factors behind its demise. Thereafter, an analysis is made of Almqvist's endeavour in the tour tales at once to instruct and to entertain his country readers.
Chapter 4 investigates Almqvist's dealings with four publishers, J.P. Lundström, L.J. Hierta, S.I. Laseron, and P.M. Lindh during the years 1839–44. Almqvist's economic dependence on the book market is shown here in his attempts to raise his renumeration by writing longer books and in his tendency to adapt to the profile of each respective publisher. His intentions in the 1840s to broaden his audience are studied via the thrilling three-volume novel Gabriéle Mimanso (1841–42), an attempt to emulate the European novel of social sensationalism. In a concluding section, an estimate is made of his earnings from his books in the years 1839–44. The total seems to have gradually dwindled, which explains why Almqvist turned to the more gainful field of newspaper work after 1846.
Keywords: Narratology, Publishing, Sociology of literature