Geomodernism and affect in Eyvind Johnson's urban north: Reflections on Stad i morker and related novel-, travel- and memory-writing

Bjarne Thorup Thomsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The article makes a contribution to the exploration of the role of the margins of modernity in reconfiguring literary articulation, critiquing a centrist perspective on the development of modernism. Participating in the re-mapping processes that inform the current, spatially inclined theorisation of modernism, the article investigates the use of Northern 'off-centre' townscapes as sites for the probing of emerging modern societies and states of mind in Swedish autodidactic author (and later Nobel laureate) Eyvind Johnson's early urban writing, with a particular emphasis on his second novel, Stad i mörker (1927). The article demonstrates how a polytopic, decentring and locational approach to the understanding of modernist topography, with 'geomodernism' as one of its labels, can be utilised to unpack the ambiguous centre-periphery relationships that are operative in the novel at both European and local levels. The article documents in this connection the creative interface between proximate and distant place in Stad i mörker: while the novel maintains its local emplacement throughout and prefers to represent human activity as 'traffic' within its townscape limits, it lets nevertheless a plurality of exterior domains and discourses related to these act on the town setting. The article discusses, moreover, the affective as well as the ideological dimensions of the 'peripheral' urban environment that dominates the novel. Referencing the literary theorists Raymond Wiliams and Frederik Tygstrup, the article concludes by arguing that Stad i mörker applies a new sociological way of seeing to its 'marginal' town location, while it may also meaningfully be read in the light of a new interest in affectivity as a shared and spatial phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalEdda: Nordisk tidsskrift for litteraturforskning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • geomodernism
  • Eyvind Johnson
  • affect and place
  • periphery and centre
  • literature of the North


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