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  • Scandinavian Contributions
  • Bo G. Ekelund, Axel Nissen, and Henrik Lassen

Among Scandinavian contributors to American literary scholarship, a distinct tendency is to concentrate on contemporary prose and, to a lesser extent, poetry. Although the year has seen relatively few publications, this pattern is still much in evidence. The conception of the United States as a cultural "salad bowl" as well as theoretical studies rooted in both the idea and the fact of difference continue to inform much scholarship. [End Page 502]

a. 19th-Century Prose

In their "Translating 'Kong Christian' . . ." (George Borrow Bulletin 17: 56–79) Inge Kabell and Hanne Lauridsen devote five pages to an analysis of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's translation of the Danish royal anthem. Kabell and Lauridsen demonstrate in convincing detail that Longfellow, who translated the song during a visit to Copenhagen in September 1835, had access to two previous English translations by George Borrow. Kabell and Lauridsen conclude that Longfellow's translation, "King Christian," was "very much influenced" and to some extent inspired by the earlier English translations.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman may have taken emotional risks in "The Yellow Wallpaper" that she did not take in her other writing, Jenny Weatherford asserts in "Approaching the Inevable: 'The Yellow Wallpaper' and Gilman's Problem with Language" (AmStScan 31, ii: 58–75). Weatherford hones in on the language and unconventional form of "The Yellow Wallpaper" in the context of the rest of Gilman's considerable oeuvre, and she argues that Gilman's "anxiety about the limitations of language has not been fully recognized." Ascribing Gilman's apparent reticence on the subject of her personal emotional torments to a primary difficulty with language itself rather than an unwillingness to examine her inner life, Weatherford proposes that it is exactly Gilman's "frustration at her inability to find a language adequate to her own experience" that gives the story its distinctive form. Writing appears to fail the narrator, as Weatherford demonstrates, but not the author, who "distances and objectifies her own perception through the narrator's hallucination." Through its very form, the story therefore begs the question of whether a woman's inner experience, as Weatherford puts it, "will ever be utterable in language that is controlled by male definitions and whether a woman's story can ever be told within the confines of conventional narrative forms."

b. 20th-Century Prose

In "Fat of the Land: The Left and the Ladies" (pp. 91–104 in The Roosevelt Years, ed. Robert A. Garson and Stuart S. Kidd [Edinburgh]) Clara Juncker focuses on the representation of women by various dissenting left-wing intellectuals in the early decades of the 20th century, among them John Dos Passos. Juncker primarily uses examples taken from the pages of Masses and New Masses. Juncker claims that the portraits of different types of women—e.g., prostitute, [End Page 503] conventional wife, militant, etc.—not only served left-wing writers' satirical diagnosis of American society, but also their more personal needs of an unconscious (male) nature, often expressed by way of personal and political idiosyncrasies. In radical intellectuals' preoccupation with the feminine in the not unusual form of lists and enumerations of different types of women, Juncker finds "fascination mingled with fear" in the sense that such typologies might in fact "originate in an authorial wish to establish command." Despite the identification of such stereotypical tendencies, Juncker concludes that the American Left nevertheless recorded the contemporary social scene in an accurate fashion and created, in the process, "a gallery of women who owe their shape" to the Left's "interest in American society."

Scholarly interest in Southern literature among Scandinavian critics is still strong. In Reading Faulkner's Best Short Stories (So. Car.) veteran Faulkner scholar Hans H. Skei offers an introduction to Faulkner as a short-story writer and offers close readings of 12 of his stories considered the best on the basis of literary quality. The book's first part contains four chapters devoted to various aspects of Faulkner's relation to short fiction: the development of his story-writing career; approaches to studying his short fiction; his contribution to the short-story genre; and the basis for the selection of "Faulkner's best...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 502-511
Launched on MUSE
1999-01-01
Open Access
No
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