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Gender and Nationality in the French Reception of Selma Lagerlöf 1899-1912

Chapter in book
Authors Jenny Bergenmar
Published in Gender and translation: understanding agents in transnational reception. Isis Herrero López, Cecilia Alvstad, Johanna Akujärvi and Synnøve Skarsbø Lindtner (red.)
Pages 127-149
ISBN 978-2-924337-13-4
ISSN 1927-7792
Publisher Éditions québécoises de l'oevre
Place of publication Quebec
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 127-149
Language en
Keywords reception history, Selma Lagerlöf, nationality, gender, France
Subject categories Languages and Literature


The purpose of this article is to investigate how Sweden and the idea of “Swedishness” were constructed in the critical reception of the work of Selma Lagerlöf (1858–1940) in France from 1899–1912, and to show how the gender of the author was made significant in this process. In addition to the perception of Lagerlöf as the epitomization of “Swedishness,” two stereotypes were often repeated: the gendered roles of the storyteller and the schoolmistress. I suggest that these attitudes originating from the Swedish reception of her work were recirculated by way of French intermediaries. Furthermore, gender and nationality became intertwined in Lagerlöf’s image in France: Her supposed naivety and humbleness were conditioned by both her origin and her gender.

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