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The ethical turn in the early writings of Pär Lagerkvist

Abstract

In the text presented, I have undertaken an analysis of the early essays of Pär Lagerkvist (dated 1915-1917), both the ones published in periodicals and the unpublished manuscripts in the possession of the Kungliga Biblioteket in Stockholm. In those essays, Lagerkvist paid considerable attention to the matters of the ethics of art and the conflict between the ethical and aesthetical criteria of assessment of the work of art, and those problems are discussed also in Lagerkvist’s letters from that time. The aim of the article is to present this less known area of the artist’s activity and to point to the fact that the consequences of those reflections can be tracked in Lagerkvist’s literary works written in the same time period. Moreover, it can be argued that the understanding of the ethical art and the moral sense of the artistic activity presented in the early texts became an import and lasting feature of Lagerkvist’s writing - and, consequently, it can be claimed that the essays under discussion have a formative effect on Lagerkvist’s later output.

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