Not Speaking or Acting as Anti-Social Feminism and Unbecoming Woman
A Queer Reading of Silence in Agnes von Krusenstjerna’s Tony Trilogy
The aim of this article is to explore the queer possibilities of the silence in the depiction of the protagonist’s love life in Agnes von Krusenstjerna’s Tony trilogy (1922–1926). The silence in the trilogy is manifested through absence: the theme of “ingenting” (nothing), the protagonist not speaking or acting, and the aesthetic that is created by interruptions in the protagonist’s dialogue, inner monologue, and narration. The analysis focuses on three passages: a depiction of an encounter between Tony and one of her suitors, her relative Frank Maclean, in Tonys läroår (Tony’s Apprenticeship, 1924); the ending of the trilogy in Tonys sista läroår (Tony’s Last Apprenticeship, 1926); and an epilogue to the trilogy, which was never included in it but later published in the second, expanded edition of En dagdriverskas anteckningar (The Notes of a Flâneuse, 1934). They are contextualised with references to the trilogy as a whole and compared to Krusenstjerna’s previous novels Ninas dagbok (The Diary of Nina, 1917) and Helenas första kärlek (Helena’s First Love, 1918). The method is a close reading with instead of against the grain, focusing on queer aspects of depictions of heterosexuality. It draws on theory belonging to the anti-social turn of queer studies and queer temporality studies. My conclusion is that Tony not speaking or acting can be read as anti-social feminism, with Tony as an anti-social feminist subject. Her queer life schedule can be interpreted as unbecoming woman. The “nothing,” and implicitly the creativity, that her passivity leads to accomplishes the opposite of patriarchal and chrononormative structures. The narrative and its ending are queer in the sense that they refuse to cohere and to fulfil demands for a happy, emancipatory ending.
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