Introducing Italy, 1948–1968: the importance of symbolic capital and position of literary mediators in the semiperiphery


This study examines the impact of two literary mediators – Martha Larsson and Anders Österling – both of whom introduced Italian literature in Sweden during the second half of the 20th century. These mediators are compared to each other with regard to their social background, habitus and position in the literary field, all elements included in their symbolic capital. By mapping out which literary texts and authors they actually introduced in the period 1948–1968, with special attention given to crucial factors such as genre and gender, the results show that their selections had different characters. While Larsson introduced contemporary authors who were highly regarded in Italy at the time, and more closely related to what Bourdieu (1993) described as the autonomous pole, Österling mainly focused on authors closer to the heteronomous pole. Following Broomans’ (2009) six-phase model of cultural transfer, the study analyzes whether their introductions had a direct effect on publication, and what strategies they used in order to introduce new Italian authorships to a Swedish audience. Drawing upon Bourdieu and (1990) and Casanova (2002), it is also argued that both mediators introduced Italian literature in order to gain symbolic capital and strengthen their positions in the Swedish literary field.

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author Cecilia Schwartz

Moderna Språk, Special Issue on literary mediators from the Romance languages in Sweden, 110. 2 (2016): 76–107.

published 2016