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Litanic Verse II

Britannia, Germania et Scandinavia


Edited By Witold Sadowski, Magdalena Kowalska and Magdalena Maria Kubas

The book contains comparative analyses of the development of litanic verse in European poetry, from medieval to modern times. Litanic verse is based on different syntactic devices, such as enumeration, parallelism, anaphora and epiphora. However, it is not to be seen merely as a convention of versification as the popularity of different variants of the verse in Europe reflects the religious, intellectual, social and political history of various European regions. The essays in the second volume focus on litanic verse in the Germanic languages. They discuss predominantly the literatures of Protestant countries (Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Norway), but also Austrian poetry.

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“Why would you have to say a litany of your soul”: Swedish and Swedish-Language Poetry in the Period 1879–1940


In the Swedish-language literature composed in Sweden and Finland,1 the beginning of the so-called Modern Breakthrough (Sw. det moderna genombrottet) goes back to 1879, which is when August Strindberg’s novel Röda rummet (The Red Room) was published. The 1880s in Sweden were a period of naturalism; the 1890s were marked by neo-romanticism and were characterized by a strong regional and patriotic focus. The fin-de-siècle literature (Sw. sekelskiftelitteratur), in turn, is characterized by decadentism and symbolism. The beginning of the twentieth century is marked by a middle-class and proletarian realism, which develop side by side; modernist tendencies appear in the middle of the second decade, thanks to Pär Lagerkvist in Sweden and Edith Södergran in Finland.

As with the previous epoch, an examination of litanic verse in Sweden at the turn of the twentieth century has likewise never been attempted before. Swedish studies on literature and literary history as well as of the works of individual writers do not acknowledge the category of litanic verse or the poetic litany.

The Litany in Honour of Mary and All the Saints

Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940), Oscar Levertin (1862–1906) and Axel Erik Karlfeldt (1864–1931) represent the neo-romanticism of the 1890s. Heidenstam was hailed a national poet in his lifetime. Levertin’s poetic achievements were overshadowed by his career as a literary historian and critic. Karlfeldt, admired for his verbal virtuosity, belongs to the school of regional literature and is...

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