The article is a presentation of partial research on litanic verse in Swedish literature carried out within the project “Litanic Verse in the Culture of European Regions”. Starting from the origins of the litanic genre, described by Witold Sadowski, the author analyses Karin Boye’s poem “Bön till solen” („Prayer to the Sun”), paying special attention to the presence of the three litanic genes: the ektenial, the polyonymic and the chairetismic. As the typical stylistic figures and structural solutions occur in the poem, a conclusion can be drawn that “Bön till solen” is an example of preservation of litanic patterns in the Swedish literary tradition.
The subject of the article is the experience of social exclusion present in five contemporary novels on childhood and adolescence spent in the Swedish folkhem, by Jonas Gardell, Lena Andersson, Mikael Niemi, Torbjörn Flygt and Susanna Alakoski. In the first part of the article I am discussing social exclusion as a term used in the debate about the Swedish welfare-state in crisis. The second part is an analysis of the literary texts, using a sociological perspective. I am focusing there on portraits of the children that are main characters in the novels, the children whose personal identity is being shaped in the shadow of the collective dream of a perfect society. Asking a question about the specifically Swedish character of those children’s sense of exclusion, I am referring to the words of the social democratic leader Per Albin Hansson, who in his speech of 1928, presented a vision of Sweden as a happy and fair common home (folkhem), in which there is no place for either favored citizens (“darlings”), or for second-class citizens (“stepchildren”).
The paper’s aim is to indicate the mutual relations between contemporary Swedish literature and the academic and political discourse on the welfare state’s crisis. The article’s first part discusses the genesis, evolution and meaning of the term ”Swedish folkhem” as it is understood today, i.e. as a political vision underlying the Swedish welfare state which with time has become a metaphor and a myth. In its other part the presence of historical narratives on the Swedish folkhem in five autobiographically inspired novels on childhood and growing up is investigated (Jonas Gardell’s En komikers uppväxt (1992), Lena Andersson’s Var det bra så? (1999), Mikael Niemi’s Populärmusik i Vittula (2000), Torbjörn Flygt’s Underdog (2001) and Susanna Alakoski’s Svinalängorna (2006). Analysing the chosen examples, the author of the paper focuses mainly on the issue of how the narratives known from political propaganda and debate are transformed, commented and used in a literary text to construct a collective identity.