Late Symbolism and Modernism in Post-war Literature
Icelandic writer Svava Jakobsdóttir’s fantastical narratives are witty, their humour and irony emerging not least from their intertextual dialogues. The Bible acts as something of an internal text within her entire oeuvre, but she also refers to world literature, myths, adventures, and women’s magazines. Her epic texts are at their most gruesome and grotesque when she tackles traditional clichés and stock phrases, which people use without thinking: ‘sacrificing oneself’, ‘giving someone a hand’.Svava Jakobsdóttir’s oeuvre is often divided into two parts, the realistic and the fantastical, and it is the fantastical stories that have attracted the most attention. This division, however, is a simplification of Svava Jakobsdóttir’s radical project. She has, in fact, never rejected the realistic art of storytelling, or its social and political references.
The eighteenth-century women dramatists cover a wide spectrum of styles. Both Anna Catharina von Passow and Birgitte Catharine Boye wrote pastorals, but they soon branched off in different directions. Boye devoted her pen to the heroic drama, and Passow began to experiment with the new form of comedy, which was the genre on which Charlotta Dorothea Biehl concentrated.While Boye’s stage art represents a high-flown conclusion to the eighteenth-century heroic drama, Passow and Biehl are of an earlier generation; they were innovative and made a major contribution to the continuation of the Danish public theatre in the period following Holberg’s death in 1754.
There are many indications that women were largely responsible for the oral tradition in Norse literature, not least the eddic narrative poems which by and large thematise women’s experience and have a female perspective. The poetry was linked to the art of divination known as seid and to the healing arts, both of which were predominantly female spheres; that is to say, poetry, seid and healing arts were components of one and the same system, forming a ritual unit. In range, Norse literature spans the transition from paganism to Christianity and from an oral to a written culture. There is a concurrent movement from a strongly women-centric to a virtually one-sided male-dominated culture. With monotheism, and later Christianity, monasteries, writing, and schools, this women-centric culture was repressed and/or usurped by the male culture. The introduction of Christianity deprived women of many important roles in the execution of pagan rituals, and they did not learn to write, either. This meant that the women’s oral tradition was, in a very literal sense, silenced by the pens of the male culture.