Sweden Literature - the 17th Century

Sweden Literature – the 17th Century


Thus was prepared the new impetus that culture and literature received in the following age. In one hundred years of history, the events of which sometimes seem legendary, the small Swedish people became one of the great political and military powers in Europe. Whole masses of Swedes poured into the fields of Europe during the Thirty Years’ War, and, conversely, crowds of Europeans, attracted by the splendors of power, flocked to Sweden. Sweden thus made a totalitarian experience of contemporary European culture. And also in Sweden the phenomenon that took place in all Protestant countries was renewed: once the crisis of the religious Reformation was overcome, all the repressed or compressed forces of the Renaissance blossomed tumultuously into the new spiritual climate and new sensitivity, which mark the age of the Baroque.

First of all, the studies grew in great honor, (so much so that, everywhere where the victorious arms extended the borders of the kingdom, new universities were founded: in 1668 in Dorpat [Tartu], Estonia, in 1647 in Åbo [Turku] in Finland, in 1668 in Lund in Scania) and the taste for scientific research was vigorously aroused. Ancient manuscripts were researched and collected; and in 1669 the chancellor De la Gardie managed to assure the Upsala Library – built in 1620 by Gustavo Adolfo – the possession of the Codex argenteus (Ulfila’s Bible). The Antikvitets Kollegiet was formed in Stockholm in 1667for the research and study of Nordic antiquities. And Sweden had in Johannes Thomae Bureus its first publisher and decipherer of the runes; in Olof Verelius his first editor and commentator of the Icelandic sagas; in Johannes Schefferus the founder of classical philology and Swedish literary erudition; in Johann Gabriel Sparfwenfeldt, who also spent a long time in Rome, the first orientalist; in Claudius Arrhenius, the initiator of Church history in Sweden; in Johan Stiernhöök the first historian of law. And many were at the same time scientists and philologists, writers and jurists, poets and practical men. Indeed, precisely this tendency to want to embrace and understand everything received a particular intensification from the instinct of magnificence of the Baroque. The awareness of the critical needs in the single research also came to ever greater clarity, in comparison with previous ages; but in reality, more than to it, and more than to the experimental inductive method, the enthusiasm of the spirits turned to the joy of discovery, in all senses and in all fields. At the same time as this awakening of scientific interests, the Neoplatonism of Ficino and Pico, the pantheistic naturalism of Bruno, the “magic science” of Paracelsus and Agrippa of Netterheim had also arrived in Sweden. And it is a bit of the whole soul of the time that found its expression in the figure of Olof Rudbeck, anatomist, naturalist, botanist, engineer, architect, draftsman, musician and – in his own way – poet: discoverer of Atland eller Manheim, where the most varied erudition mixes with the most unbridled imagination and Sweden appears as the mythical Atlantis from which all civilization in the world has radiated over the centuries.

Rudbeck himself, on the other hand, with his irrepressible vitality and with his mind in continuous boiling, is also an example of another profound change that has come about in consciences: the feeling of individuality has been awakened as the primary source of forces. human; and it was not in vain that the poet Lars Wivallius, a man of adventure, vagabond, whimsical, unscrupulous, always ready to enjoy himself, came down to live – albeit “latching”, as he himself boasts – for some time in Italy. also always ready to fight, inexhaustible of resources and able to cope in the most difficult situations. Even a sensitive and meek man like – in the second half of the century – Lars Johannesson (pseudonym Lucidor Thanatophilander) feels the relativity of all human goods, so much so that he always disdained to look for a place and, wandering first through the cities of Europe, also in Italy, then wandering through the streets and taverns of Stockholm, he ran all the dangers of those who live in luck, but no one took away his joy of burlesque creativity, nor the joy of feeling light – for a moment – the soul in the intoxication of wine and song; and, above all, no one took away from him the secret of descending within himself to that last human truth, in which to enjoy life is also to recognize its sadness and “love death”. intoxication with wine and singing; and, above all, no one took away from him the secret of descending within himself to that last human truth, in which to enjoy life is also to recognize its sadness and “love death”. intoxication with wine and singing; and, above all, no one took away from him the secret of descending within himself to that last human truth, in which to enjoy life is also to recognize its sadness and “love death”.

If the expression of this new feeling of life remained fragmented in the literature, it was because another problem arose, of a formal nature. As in Germany, so in Sweden the new poetry arose when in other countries it already had long and glorious traditions. The linguistic matter was still crude, largely shapeless, reluctant to bow to the demands of a refined taste. The first collection of verses, which Gustav Rosenhane (pseudonym Skogekär Bergbo) published in 1568, bears the title: Thet Swenska Språketz klagemål ; and also the collection of poems by Georg Stiernhelm, released ten years later, bears a similar title: Musae Suethizantesthet är Sång – Gudinnor nu först lärande dichta och spela på Swenska. The intention from which both poets moved is revealed in both titles: to show how even a Swede, writing in his own language, could formally compete with the poets of other peoples. Rosenhane never published more than a cycle of a hundred love sonnets – Venerid -, of Petrarchian inspiration; Stiernhelm instead became the “literary ruler” – Opitz – of Sweden. Philologist, linguist, jurist, mathematician, philosopher – very close to Bruno’s thought -, he was a dynamic personality who gave impulses of all kinds to the culture of the time, so that his Herkules – heroic-allegorical poem on Hercules at the crossroads between Virtue and Pleasure – is, formally, the presupposition of all the poetry that followed. Samuel Columbus, who was his biographer, learned not only the moralizing epic style, but also the elastic, agile language, for the leaping stanzas of Bacchic chant; the anonymous humorous poet of Bröllopsbeswärs Ihugkommelse’s wedding scenes so closely matched his style that the poem could be attributed for a long time to Stiernhelm himself; Petrus Lagerlöf, professor of poetry, continued, forcing it into more rigid forms, the reform of metrics.

According to YOUREMAILVERIFIER.COM, all the doors thus opened to the “ornate gracefulness” that the taste of the times required. And – since Italian was taught in Upsala since 1663 – the influence of Italian secentism spread widely through direct and indirect ways: Johann Paulinus Lillienstedt introduced Guarini to Sweden, weaving sonnets and madrigals on an Italian model and s’ he inspired Marino for his poems on Christ; Johann Gabriel Werwing trained in translations from Marino and derived the sensual warmth of his early compositions; Christoffer Leyoncrona cultivated his own pathetic and overloaded marinism in the manner of Hofmannswaldau; Gunno Dahlstierna translated the Pastor fido (about 1695) and lavished in the octaves of his poem Kungaskald all the decorative pomp and all the turgidity of imagination that he admired in Adonis. At the same time Erik Lindsköld, JG Werwing, Israel Holmström indulged in the charms of French preciousness or the graces of fugitive poetry and the witty or parody of burlesque poetry ; and Urban Hiärne offered the idylls and sighs of his pastoral novel Stratonice to sensitive souls. The worldliness, which Queen Christina had already imported with the French ballets at the court, invested poetry on all sides: even Bishop Torsten Rudeen, after having learned to sigh on Petrarch and declaim on Marino, modulated his delicate Gavotte in a low voice. de l’Amour. And the theater was transformed according to the same needs. Not only the “student comedy” still cultivated by mid-century by Samuel and Jacob Brask Chronander, gave way to the literary inspiration tragedy with Rosimunda U Hiärne, composed with choirs of classical model; but – in 1648 the English comedians arrived, in 1652 the Italian comedians arrived – the theater was stripped of any extraneous understanding, it became pure “joy of the spectacle”. The pastoral drama became popular. And the musical comments were accentuated: in Johan Celsius ‘ Orpheus – which seems to go back more or less immediately to Poliziano – single parts are intended for singing. Finally in 1699 the Rosidor company, called from Paris, he transplanted the French theater to Stockholm. In his Journey to Sweden (1672) Magalotti left us a vivid picture of this rich and opulent social and cultural life.

Only after the turn of the century did literature begin to take on a new tone, simpler, more calm, reflective. With Charles XII the Swedish armies carried out their last deed on the fields of Europe, bleeding to death in Poltava: and the long weight and, finally, the hard story of the war could not fail to be reflected in the conditions of life and spirit of the country. There was a need for intellectual recollection. The feeling of possession of truth and inner security, which had inspired the religious poetry of orthodoxism and had found an expression not without solemnity or strength in the psalms of Harvin Spegel and Jesper Svedberg and in the poem Guds Werk och Hvila Spegel himself, gave rise to a more individual and softer, almost pietistic religious sensitivity with Jakob Frese’s poetry, full of lived suffering and sweet resignation and trust in God. In the same lyric of subjective content Johan Runius, after having succumbed to the lure of “social poetry” according to the French fashion, he converted to a humble accent poem, but fresh, melodious and moving. Sophia Elisabeth Brenner’s love for pomp or refinement was followed by a taste for correct, sustained, clear speech. By now there was no lack of anything but Boileau’s poetics; and they were through the sententious smooth lines of Samuel Triewald.

Sweden Literature - the 17th Century