Places and spaces in Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series
This chapter explores the internationally successful Swedish novelist Johan Theorin’s Öland quartet series, including the novels Skumtimmen (2007; Echoes of the Dead, 2008), Nattfåk (2008; The Darkest Room, 2009), Blodläge (2010; The Quarry, 2011) and Rörgast (2013; The Voices Beyond, 2015). The novels are examined as Gothic crime, that is, a Gothic subgenre of Nordic Noir, where the modern crime investigation is obstructed by seemingly supernatural happenings linked to the Nordic location and its history. The chapter demonstrates in what way Theorin writes within an old and established Nordic tradition of crime fiction dating back to the early nineteenth century, at the same time as he expands the importance of setting and Nordic mythology to address different aspects of modernity and the disadvantages of modern lifestyle. Yi-Fu Tuan’s distinction of place and space is therefore used as a point of departure in the investigation of the return of a fear-provoking past linked to unfamiliar spaces beyond modern society and the tourist attraction on the idyll of Öland, a Swedish summer resort in the Baltic sea.
This chapter provides a historical survey of the rise of the Gothic in Nordic literature, film, TV series and video games. Going back to the first generation of Gothic texts, the chapter notes that German, British and French novels around 1800 were quickly translated into the Scandinavian languages, and that they inspired Nordic writers – and, later, film directors – to emulate this tradition but also to adapt the genre to Nordic audiences. The chapter then discusses the evolution of Nordic Gothic during the nineteenth and twentieth century, noting the most important writers and their work. Finally, the chapter describes the emerging scholarship that shows how Nordic canonical authors and filmmakers have been influenced by the Gothic, and addresses what can be termed the Nordic Gothic boom that can be said to begin in 2004 with John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in.
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.