Ulf Starks pojkland
En litterär exkursion i Stureby
The Boys’ Nation According to Ulf Stark: A Literary Excursion in Stureby
A great part of Ulf Stark’s literary œuvre takes place in Stureby, a suburb south of Stockholm, and more specifically Stureby in the 1950s, the place and era of the author’s own boyhood. Although the environment we enter via Stark’s authorship is to be regarded as his imaginary universe, an investigation such as this shows that there are several links and correspondences between the literary setting and the real suburb. In order to investigate some of these connections, this study invokes two theoretical fields. The first one is literary geography, more precisely Henri Lefebvre’s spatial triad, concerning three both different and interacting ways of understanding a room: the perceived, the conceptualized, and the social. Furthermore this survey takes into account different historical documents concerning Stureby, and also a form of literary excursion, a pondering walking tour around Stureby of today, with Stark’s narrative in mind. The second theoretical field is boyhood studies and in particular the idea of a boys’ own “nation”, a distinct cultural world with its own rituals and own symbols and values: a social space where the boys play outside the rules of the adult world. The book chosen for this investigation is Stark’s Min vän Percys magiska gymnastikskor (My Friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes, 1991). The study shows that specific places in Stureby, such as the suburban road, the tunnel, the kiosk, and the subway bridge are invaded and appropriated by the boys, and turned into arenas of different boy culture rituals and adventures. This, in turn, means that the geographical places described in Stark’s work influence the style of the work – for example its narrative action, its vocabulary, the narrative devices, and the compositional form.
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