Henrik Ibsen did not always go unchallenged. On the contrary, several of the women of the Modern Breakthrough felt provoked to correct or revise Ibsen’s original text, and time after time his portraits of women turn up in their plays and short stories, but rewritten on the basis of a different horizon of understanding. Two obvious examples from 1882 of such a female, partly subversive dialogue with Ibsen are Anne Charlotte Edgren Leffler’s short story “Tvifvel” (Doubt), and Alfhild Agrell’s play Räddad (Saved).These texts clearly show how Ibsen’s portrayal of women served as a challenge, a set piece that had to be tested and partly destroyed in order for the two female authors to arrive at a more credible story.
The writing career of Sara Elisabeth Wacklin is a good example of how difficult it was for one of the narrative talents of the semi-public salons to become an author. Just before her death, the three volumes of her lifework, Hundrade minnen från Österbotten (A Hundred Memories from Ostrobothnia), were published. Since it contains examples of all the period’s prose styles, the work forms an interesting link in the history of both the Finnish and the Swedish novel.Even if the book may be regarded as belonging to the contemporary literary tradition of native realists, it can also be interpreted in terms of a searching and experimental effort. This plurality may be a result of Wacklin’s attempt to also offer an unaffected depiction of the Ostrobothnian woman and her conditions of life. The publication of Hundrade minnen från Österbotten became a lengthy affair. The Finnish publisher insisted on a subscription list to guarantee the sales. This never proved necessary, for the work became a considerable success.