Class, Taste, and Literature: The Case of Ivar Lo-Johansson and Swedish Working-Class Literature
Keywords:Working-class literature, taste, class, Ivar Lo-Johansson, Sweden
This article discusses the tradition of Swedish working-class literature and the relationship between taste and class. First, I analyze the representation of this relationship in Swedish working-class writer Ivar Lo-Johansson’s novel Kungsgatan [King Street] from 1935. Thereafter, I discuss the whole tradition of Swedish working-class literature—in which LoJohansson’s novel occupies a central position. This tradition constitutes a challenge to received ideas about class and taste, mainly because its consecration as a central strand in Swedish literature and its dissemination to a mass audience in the working class make it problematic to uphold conventional distinctions between popular/working-class and high/bourgeois culture. Finally, I argue that the challenging of these distinctions is not only a key to a better understanding of Lo-Johansson’s novel, but it also shows that Swedish working-class literature can serve as a catalyst for re-theorizations within working-class studies of the relationship between class and taste as something that is historically specific, rather than universal.