Nils Holgersson och synen på barn, barndom och nationen: en komparativ studie av hundra års utveckling i Sverige och den engelskspråkiga världen

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Historia

Sammanfattning: Children’s literature is an underused source for historical studies even though children’s books have great potential to give us insights into the time in which they were written. This is especially true when it comes to views of children and childhood which makes children’s literature a good way into the complex history of childhood. Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (1906-1907) is a classic all over the world today, but it was written as a Swedish schoolbook with the purpose to both entertain children and teach them the geography of their country. The fact that the story has survived displacement in both time and space makes it an interesting source for a study on how views of childhood, not least in relation to the idea of nation, have developed in new adaptations and translations. This essay examines the development of views of children and childhood, the idea of the nation, and the view of childhood in relation to the nation in the story of Nils as well as four Swedish adaptations and four English translations. These developments are compared to earlier research on the history of childhood and the aim of the study is to shed light upon the complexity of the history of childhood through a comparison in both time and space. Two concepts are central to this essay, the implied (or imagined) reader and imagined communities, which are combined to show how the story has been adapted to new readers within new contexts and how this affects the the view of childhood and the idea of the national community that is mediated. The different versions are examined on a general scale to show the purpose and orientation of the adaptation, but ten chapters are also examined more closely to see how the child characters are portrayed, what elements of death and violence are included, and what image of the national community that is mediated to the implied reader. The essay shows that childhood, just like the implied reader and the national community, is imagined and undergoes constant change. The study indicates a complex development where the Swedish adaptations are increasingly adapted to suit new child readers with new perceived needs, while the latest English translation rather affirms the book’s status as a classic with a translation that is complete and faithful to the Swedish original and its duality. The development of views of childhood shows many similarities between the two cultures as well as to the general trends that are listed in earlier research, but it also points to important differences in relation to the rights of children, elements of death, and focus on the national community. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a complexity which demands more comparative studies between nations and cultures within the history of childhood and that it is a field that cannot be reduced to general trends or limited to local studies.

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