Abstract: Dikten i etern. Radion och skönlitteraturen 1925–1955

(Literature on the Air. Poetry and Prose on the Swedish Radio 1925–1955).

Solveig Lundgren, Skrifter utgivna av Avdelningen för litteratursociologi
vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen i Uppsala, nr 31. 1994

286 pp. Uppsala ISBN 91-85178-24-1
(Swedish text with a summary in English.)

The purpose of this dissertation is to map out and analyse the output of literary programmes on the Swedish Radio during the period 1925–1955, when it had only one channel at its disposal. The point of departure is the Charter of 1924 which emphasizes the duty of the radio to provide a broad programme output while keeping up a high cultural and artistic standard and taking responsibility for the promotion of adult education – in short, the Swedish Radio was based on the principles of public-service broadcasting. Different categories of programmes have been examined: readings of poetry and of serialized novels, literary reviews, lectures and the special forms of presentation of literature which were developed.

As far as readings are concerned special attention has been given to two regular programmes which have been on the air for more than 50 years: Dagens dikt (Todays Poem) and Radioföljetongen (The Radio Serial). In Todays Poem we can observe a development from a high proportion of Swedish dassical poetry to more stress being given to contemporary poetry with a group of female poets of the 1940s very prominently represented. As for the Radio Serial, during the decades examined the emphasis was on Swedish novelists, headed by Selma Lagerlöf and Hjalmar Bergman.

The scripts of more than 300 literary reviews have been examined. Together they give both an insight into cultural history and an exposé of Swedish book publishing during the decades concerned. The reviewers were, almost without exception, well-known newspaper critics. On the radio it was their task to introduce valuable literature to the listeners rather than to exercise literary criticism in the proper sense of the term. One chapter has been devoted to the series of literary talks which were designed as an explicit part of the radio's contribution to adult education. Two other factors which have been taken up are the effect of topical literary discussions and world events on the programme output, and the question as to whether the literary radio programmes influenced the forming of a literary canon. The reaction to programmes by listeners and critics has also been treated. Letters sent to the Swedish Radio bear witness to their importance, particularly to listeners who until then had had very limited opportunities of coming in contact with literature.

Keywords: history of radio broadcasting, sociology of literature, orality, Swedish 20th century poetry, literary criticism, adult education.