Eyvind Johnson Leif SjöBerg - Essay

Leif SjöBerg

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


[Eyvind Johnson's] way of writing is quite complex and cannot easily be classified under any specific rubric. He varies his techniques and devices with each novel, mixing the styles of classical writers with those of such moderns as Thomas Mann and William Faulkner, yet maintaining his integrity and his own personal style. In Krilon Johnson sometimes turns to the reader. Even in Molnen över Metapontion the narrator is more noticeable than is usual in modern novels. Sverker Göransson rightly observes that Eyvind Johnson's attitude is that of the scientist. "He is by no means 'omniscient'; he only organizes a certain material. The reader thus can form his 'own' opinions about the protagonists, without immediate directives or guidance from the author. Johnson views the action from different angles and in that way attempts to give as much intensity and truth as possible. Scandinavian, French and German critics have proclaimed him a master; he nonetheless continues to experiment with form in his novels, as if never really satisfied."

Johnson has long been interested in problems of time, that mysterious stream which continues to occupy so many minds with its riddles. He has been specially concerned about parallelisms and simultaneity. To him the past is often a parallel of the present. (p. 417)

Leif Sjöberg, "The 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature: Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson," in Books Abroad (copyright 1975 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 49, No. 3, Summer, 1975, pp. 407-10, 415-21.∗