Lekens alternativa geografi. Om Zacharias Topelius bidrag i Eos på 1850-talet
Abstract: In the history of Nordic children’s literature the Swedish speaking Finnish author Zacharias Topelius (1818–1898) is not only recognized for developing a new form of realism but also for his fictional rascal, Walter. His eight stories about the mischievous Walter, “Walters Äfwentyr” (1855–1856), originally published in the Finnish magazine Eos, is thus considered to be the first children’s stories in Swedish that articulate the child as an unruly but good-hearted character. This essay, however, shows that the development of Topelian realism, and the emergence of the rascal and villain in the Nordic literature for children during the 1850s, is closely connected to the depiction of children’s play. In many of the stories published in Eos Topelius returns to the portrayal of young boys playing soldiers. In this way he positions the spirited fantasy of children in opposition to the adult world of order and seriousness. This alternative geography of play creates a space for the child’s perspective, and does it in a mode that resembles the realism of the forerunner Olof Fryxell (1806–1900). Topelius’ representation of play nevertheless seems to stand in opposition to the adult world in a more explicit way. It conveys the imaginings of unruly and playful boyhood masculinity as a means to achieve the seriousness of the adult middle-class male.
Keywords: realism; masculinity; play; stories for boys; unruliness;
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to The Swedish Institute for Children's Books. However, authors are required to transfer copyrights associated with commercial use to the Publisher.