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Carl Jonas Love Almqvist

Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (November 28, 1793, Stockholm, Sweden - September 26, 1866, Bremen, Germany), was a romantic poet, early feminist, realist, composer, social critic and traveler. Some of his views may be considered surprisingly modern; for example his thoughts about the equality of men and women would be considered radical even by modern standards.

He wrote many books and poems. Some dealt with his radical views on society and politics; in his novel Drottninges juvelsmycke, his main character, Tintomara, is neither male nor female, and arouses both men and woman to fall in love, and in his novel Det går an (It's acceptable), a woman lives with a man without being married to him. These books caused the church and state to condemn him and call him a dangerous revolutionary. However, he still maintained influence with his writings, and he is counted as one of the foremost Swedish social reformers of the 19th century.

He was accused, possibly falsely, on the testimony of Amanda Brandt among others, of having tried to murder a shady business acquaintance with arsenic. He fled to the United States, where he spent most of his last years. There he took a new identity and married, and lived a life of obscurity in self-imposed exile. In 1865 he returned to Europe, took another identity and died in Germany the following year.

Selected Works

  • Amorina (1822, rev. 1839), novel
  • Drottningens juvelsmycke (1834), novel
  • Ormus och Ariman (1839)
  • Om poesi i sak (1839), essay on poetics
  • Det går an (1839), novel
  • Songes (1849), poems

Det går an

During a steamboat trip between Stockholm and Falkirk sergeant Albert falls in love with the glazier's daughter Sara Videbeck.

But to marry, Sara requires them to live in an egalitarian marriage without a formal marriage ceremony and without shared property.

Sara asks at the end of the book: Går allt detta an, Albert? (Is all this acceptable, Albert?)

The answer is: Det går an (It's acceptable).

The novel is primarily an attack on life-long marriage as an institution and the prevention of women to become financially independent.

The book's social tendency aroused lively debate and "det-går-an literature" became a concept.

The issue of Det går an contributed greatly to that Almqvist was forced to leave his post as president of Nya Elementarskolan in Stockholm. The book also impeded his intended career as a priest. Even at the exile 1851 Almqvist was termed "the det-går-an priest" by his detractors.

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