Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In 1946, Gunnar Ekelöf wrote that his A Mölna Elegy has as its theme the relativity of time and experiences in the flow of time. The poet attempts to capture one such moment, a cross-section of time, as it were, in which experiences and re-experiences combine, both remaining separate occasions and becoming a unified instant. In the A Mölna Elegy, Ekelöf also questions the idea of identity. The poem’s first-person narrator represents a variety of personalities who focus on the lack of constancy in life and on the overwhelming transitory nature of existence. These themes, fragmented in the poem’s complex structure, imbue the elegy with a tone of uncertainty and mystery. In that tone and in the disjointed structure, the work clearly echoes the style of American, English, and French surrealists and modernist poets of the early twentieth century. Particularly strong influences were T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a poem Ekelöf translated into Swedish.
For English readers, the complexity of A Mölna Elegy is partly due to Ekelöf’s use of Swedish settings and history as well as to the poem’s dense content and form. The poem functions on a number of levels, for it is a web of allusions, symbols, and points-of-view of many voices inside one character’s mind. It is not, however, obvious or necessarily important to know, for example, that the elegy is set at the...
(The entire section is 1262 words.)
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