”[…] hon var ingenting annat än mor nu” : En feministisk studie av Anne Charlotte Lefflers noveller ”En bal i societeten” och ”I krig med samhället”

Detta är en Magister-uppsats från Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för genus, kultur och historia


In this essay I study two novellas by Anne Charlotte Leffler, “En bal i societeten” and “I krig med samhället”. In order to do this, I use some of the differences between male and female writing that Ingeborg Nordin Hennel discusses in her study “Ämnar kanske fröken publicera något?”: Kvinnligt och manligt i 1880-talets novellistik. For the analysis of “I krig med samhället” I also use the text “Stabat mater” by Julia Kristeva. Anne Charlotte Leffler describes femininity both as a shortcoming and as a possibility in her authorship. In this essay I focus on femininity as a shortcoming. In my opinion “shortcoming” is not the proper description. I have therefore introduced the term “novella of disillusionment” to describe the novellas. My idea is that the female protagonist through disillusionment comes to the understanding of the double standards and limiting conventions of women. This is the insight that underlies femininity as a possibility.

I want to show how the two novellas lead to disillusionment for Arla. In “En bal i societeten”, the young Arla’s disillusionment is about romantic love. The novella criticizes bourgeois matrimony. It also discusses authorship and theatrical art. The novella is impressionistic. I examine the portrayed women because they give a voice to and criticize double standards. Another distinct theme is the relationship between mothers and daughters as part of the oppressive patriarchal system. The men appearing in the novella are more of stereotypes. Their primary interest is in their relationship to Arla. The narrator uses often a double gaze where the second look is female and antipatriarcal.

In the analysis of “I krig med samhället” I focus on Arla’s development. The main male character is a young radical writer, typical of male writers in the 1880s. My interest is solely in his relationship to Arla. His radical ideas do not include the emancipation of women and the companionate marriage proves to be disillusionment for Arla. His view of women is influenced by the ideals of the discourse of the Madonna. This both restricts Arla, and gives her a possible way of life, based on a feminine experience. I also discuss the perspective of the narrator that confronts the views of Lefflers male colleagues. I also discuss the complex relationship between Arla and her teenage daughter.

In the final part of the essay I clarify the disillusionment by comparing Arla’s fate with some works by Leffler that can better be categorized as describing femininity as a possibility, in particular, the novel “En sommarsaga”. In my opinion “I krig med samhället” is the precursor of the novel.

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