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Nature, Work, and Transcendence. Christian intertexts in Selma Lagerlöf’s Nils Holgersson’s Marvelous Journey through Sweden and the modern Swedish Welfare state

Abstract : This article analyzes the function of Christian intertexts in Selma Lagerlöf’s Nils Holgersson’s Marvelous Journey Through Sweden (1906/7). The intertexts structure the story both narratively and ethically. For the most part, however, they are not explicitly used as Christian. The intention of the book is not to transmit these stories, but to translate them into the new, national discourse. They were stripped of their original religious context and placed in the service of what might be called a national religion. In this process, the loss of the Christian framework did not mean the abolition of central ethical elements that were significant for Protestant practice. In particular, the pietistic heritage of a work ethic, the necessity of learning and education in order to become a true Christian – or, in its secular version, a true human citizen of the world with respect for others, taking responsibility for one’s own life and that of others, being humble and industrious – are central to the propagated morality of Nils Holgersson’s travelling school. Moreover, the transition from vertically to horizontally ordered space in the course of nationalizing the organization of the imagined community of Sweden seems to demand that the location of metaphysical transcendence be moved from heaven to earth; nature takes the place of the divine.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03647798
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 11:00:09 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 21, 2022 - 3:24:38 AM

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Thomas Mohnike. Nature, Work, and Transcendence. Christian intertexts in Selma Lagerlöf’s Nils Holgersson’s Marvelous Journey through Sweden and the modern Swedish Welfare state. European Journal of Scandinavian Studies, 2022, 52 (1), pp.6-25. ⟨10.1515/ejss-2022-2067⟩. ⟨hal-03647798⟩

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