In Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Gothic-horror novel Little
Star (2010) graphic violence has a central function – thematically, but
primarily as an aesthetic device. The plot contains motifs from classical video
nasties, motifs that also have an effect on the text itself. This paper examines
the novel’s use of extremely violent scenes, influenced by violent horror films,
defining them as a kind of remediation. One point being made is that the use of
violent effects, often described as a kind of spectacle, can be interpreted as a
formal play upon the conventions of violent fiction.
This chapter examines how contemporary Swedish Gothic relates to the dismantling of the Swedish welfare system, and how the welfare state is described in terms of horror in Lindqvist’s novels Hanteringen av odöda (2005; Handling the Undead 2009) and Rörelsen. Den andra platsen (2015; The Movement. The Other Place), and Mats Strandberg’s novel Hemmet (2017; The Home). These novels explore the failures of the welfare state in different ways. Lindqvist refers to or quotes iconic leaders associated with the welfare state, and Rörelsen deals with the murder of Olof Palme in 1986, describing the political climate at the time of his death. The zombie story Hanteringen av odöda addresses the incapacity of the state to take care of the undead, and the story indicates a connection between the awakening of the dead and climate change, reflecting the ecological anxiety of contemporary society. Strandberg’s Hemmet depicts the consequences of welfare profiteering and is defined as geriatric Gothic. The setting is a haunted nursing home and the story combines supernatural horror and social critique with the fear of old age, but also with the fear of having to put a family member in an institution run by a profit-based company.
This chapter examines the phenomenon of Nordic troll Gothic. It demonstrates how late twentieth and twenty-first century troll fiction can be understood in relation to the concepts of ecogothic and dark ecology, and how the ambiguous character of the troll is used to explore limits and question categories. Nature, especially the forest, is depicted as dark and uncanny and it is sometimes also described as having agency, dissolving the limits between animate and inanimate. The chapter analyses troll stories by Swedish authors Selma Lagerlöf, Kerstin Ekman and Stefan Spjut, and Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo, showing how they make use of both the folklore tradition and the Gothic. The chapter demonstrates, among other things, that the plot is rarely narrated from the point of view of the troll, and that trolls often are depicted as a dying species but also as dark avengers, striking back at humankind.
This chapter presents two important forerunners to contemporary Nordic Gothic, Danish Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) and Swedish Selma Lagerlöf (1858–1940). The chapter sketches their different literary and historical contexts and touches on translations and adaptions of, or contemporary references to, their Gothic stories and novels. The first part of the chapter then focuses on Gothic elements in Andersen’s fairy tales ‘Den lille Havfrue’ (1837; ‘The Little Mermaid’), ‘Snedronningen’ (1844; ‘The Snow Queen’) and ‘De vilde Svaner’ (1838; ‘The Wild Swans’), and briefly relates the first two to the Disney adaptations of those two tales. The second part of the chapter examines folklore, fin-de-siècle and provinciality in the novel Gösta Berlings saga (1891; The Saga of Gösta Berling). The short stories ‘De fågelfrie’ (1892, ‘The Outlaws’) and ‘Stenkumlet’ (1892, ‘The King’s Grave’) are also briefly discussed as examples of Lagerlöf’s use of the forest as Gothic setting.
Nordic Gothic traces Gothic fiction in the Nordic region from its beginnings in the nineteenth century with a main focus on the development of Gothic from the 1990s onwards in literature, film, TV series and new media. The volume gives an overview of Nordic Gothic fiction in relation to transnational developments and provides a number of case studies and in-depth analyses of individual narratives. The book creates an understanding of a ubiquitous but hitherto under-researched cultural phenomenon by showing how the Gothic narratives make visible cultural anxieties haunting the Nordic countries and their welfare systems, and how central these anxieties are for the understanding of identities and ideologies in the Nordic region. It examines how figures from Nordic folklore and mythology function as metaphorical expressions of Gothic themes, and also how universal Gothic figures such as vampires and witches are used in the Nordic context. The Nordic settings, and especially the Nordic wilderness, are explored from perspectives such as ecocriticism and postcolonialism and subcategories such as Gothic crime, Gothic humour, troll Gothic and geriatric Gothic are defined and discussed. Furthermore, the phenomenon of transcultural adaptation is investigated, using the cases of Lars von Trier’s Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in, two seminal works of contemporary Nordic Gothic.
Maria Holmgren Troy, Johan Höglund, Yvonne Leffler and Sofia Wijkmark
This chapter introduces and defines the concept of ‘Nordic Gothic’ as fiction produced in the five nation states of Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and in the regions claimed by these nations. The chapter observes that the geographical and linguistic borders that these states denote have changed greatly during the past 200 years, and that this has been important to the rise of Gothic. The introduction furthermore notes that, since the 1990s, there has been a significant Gothic boom across several media in the Nordic region. It is argued that this boom needs to be understood both in its relation to other regional contexts and in relation to the concept of Nordic Noir. Finally, the introduction describes some of the work that has been done on Nordic Gothic and provides the reader with an outline of the chapters that follow.