The aim of this study is to examine the construction of idealistic ideas in the posthumous diary of the Finland-Swedish modernist poet Kerstin Söderholm, All by myself (Endast med mig själv 1947–1948). In this autobiographical genre associated with women writers and intimacy in particular, Söderholm explores personal themes from the position of an outsider. However, she reveals her bonds to a specific cultural context in describing her physical and mental fragility, her identification with a degenerate upper class and her suicidal thoughts. This holds also for the complications in her erotic relationships and her reflections on creativity. She expresses ideas from the turn of the 20th century and idealistic premises quite common in the interwar period. Consequently, her thoughts are not emerging (only) from her “soul” or “inner being” — as the psychological perspective in her diary and its paratexts suggests — but from external references such as Nietzscheism, mysticism, and an idealistic tradition in general. In her diary, Söderholm is able to express herself as a woman writer in an “egoistic” manner and contribute to the cultural debate on different topics on equal terms with male authorities. In this respect, the genre has a liberating effect on her creativity. On the other hand, her subordination to patriarchal ideas is striking. Söderholm’s self-presentation raises fundamental questions about individual freedom and contextuality.
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|