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Kärlek per korrespondens : två förlovade par under andra hälften av 1800-talet

  • Christina Douglas
Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Svenska
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling


This dissertation has three major ingredients: the experience of love, two Swedish middle-class couples, and the letters they wrote to each other during their courtship - that is, from the time of their first dream of a relationship, and their eventual marriage. The purpose is to use a biographical study of the two couples, Erik and Sophia and Hanna and Harald, and through their letters gain knowledge and understanding of how it might have been to initiate, construct and live within a loving relationship during the second half of the nineteenth century.

The subject is approached from the perspective of what is sometimes called existential history; a type of scholarship which primarily focuses on the relationships between people and how different individuals during the ages have handled the fundamental questions of life. The subject of love and life is understood as something that precludes simple answers, but where the quest for understanding a past era’s people and their experience of life touches on the human existential condition. The study’s explicit quest for understanding is also shown in the methodological departure points of hermeneutics and dialogue. The dissertation is characterised by the simultaneous presence of not only the author but also the four individuals forming the two studied couples. The primary source material is the letters written by the two couples during their engagement. The letter is problematised both as form or genre, and as source material. Letters are seen as complex and paradoxical, but their links to the person who wrote them and to real life are also seen as crucial. Furthermore, letters’ ability to transcend time and place, as well as making possible a meeting between the letter-writer and the intended reader, is emphasized.

In the dissertation it becomes clear that the two couples were brought together by love, and that their parents had a limited influence over their choice of marriage partners. The two couples, however, used their respective correspondences in different ways, and the letters played different roles in their relationships. Longing and feelings of love were expressed by both couples. However, Hanna’s and Harald’s letters contain much more discussions of their relationship, love and future marriage, sometimes with explicit references to contemporary novels. They also had a strong desire to understand one another, and a key point of the dissertation is to emphasize the existential aspects of life, among them the experience of love and the ever ongoing quest for a deeper understanding.


Södertörns högskola, MA 624
  • Eva Helen Ulvros (professor)


  • History
  • love
  • courtship
  • marriage
  • the nineteenth century
  • letters
  • auto/biography
  • gender
  • middle-class
  • hermeneutics
  • cultural history
  • Swedish history
  • correspondence
  • epistolary


  • ISSN: 1652-7399
  • ISBN: 978-91-7331-435-0

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