Mord, blod och rosslande kämpars dödskval
Fridtjuv Bergs Trojanska kriget och Iliaden för barn
Murder, Mayhem, and the Moans of Dying Men: Fridtjuv Berg’s Trojanska kriget and The Iliad for Children
Around the turn of the twentieth century, several retellings of Homer’s epic and Greek mythology were published for children in Sweden. Fridtjuv Berg’s Trojanska kriget (The Trojan War, 1901) in the canonical publication series Barnbiblioteket Saga (The Children’s Library Saga) became one of the most long-lived. This article examines the characteristics of Berg’s rewriting by an analysis of the organization of the narrative, paratextual features, and the depiction of gender. Berg’s strategies are compared with another contemporary rewriting of The Iliad, Kata Dalström’s Grekiska guda- och hjältesagor (Greek Tales of Gods and Heroes, 1893). The article shows that the two rewritings mainly depict the same events and in the same order. Trojanska kriget foregrounds the historical content of The Iliad in the paratexts and by structuring the narrative around the foundation and fall of Troy. Dalström’s paratexts stress the timelessness of the work by references to a long cultural tradition, which is reinforced by illustrations depicting artworks from different eras. Berg’s book is more richly and uniformly illustrated, and Louis Moe’s illustrations highlight the action of the tale. Furthermore, Berg and Dalström focus on different aspects when abridging the tales, which influences the depiction of gender. While both rewritings describe a patriarchal society, Berg puts greater emphasis on male relationships and heroism. The women are mainly described as passive victims of war or masculinist power structures. Dalström’s version contains a greater variety of women. The comparison makes clear that Berg’s greater interest in the historical and factual aspects of Homer’s epic may have contributed to a more conservative gender ideology. At the same time, the rapid action of Trojanska kriget together with the publication context in Barnbiblioteket Saga are probably two of the factors behind the book’s success.
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