Många röster små : En applicering av Michail Bachtins polyfonibegrepp på Moa Martinsons roman Kvinnor och äppelträd
The aim of this essay is to investigate to which extent the novel Kvinnor och äppelträd by Moa Martinson can be classified as a polyphonic novel. The concept polyphony was established in literary theory by the Russian language theorist and literary critic Michail Bachtin in 1929, in his book Problems of Dostoevsky’s poetics. In order to understand and comprehend the concept of polyphony I have used an interpretation due to the literature scholar Robyn McCallum. She notes that the characters in a polyphonic novel function as focalizers. All fictional characters create their own basis of social, cultural and ideological opinions and values, from which they provide their particular perspective on the story. Therefore, when fictional characters and their socio-ideological viewpoints intersect, a rather complex structure of interaction, dialogues and intersubjectivity is created between them. Kvinnor och äppelträd is according to the most prominent scholar in the field, Ebba Witt-Brattström, a polyphonic novel. Her presumption is based upon the plurality of voices that is expressed in the novel, and the ambiguous interaction between them. However, to the best of my knowledge, no profound investigation of the novel’s polyphonic structure has yet been undertaken, and therefore this essay is dedicated to this task. For this purpose I have performed an analysis of the narratology in the novel, resulting in the overall conclusion that Kvinnor och äppelträd is indeed a polyphonic novel. Since the concept of polyphony also implies a modernistic feature, one can discuss the fact that Kvinnor och äppelträd has been classified as working class literature, and not modernistic literature. The final conclusion of the essay is that the complex polyphonic structure of the novel, and its controversial and pioneering content, have been underestimated and ignored. Regarding this aspect Moa Martinson should have been categorized under the Swedish literary modernism.
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