Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
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Historisk tidskrift 132:2 • 2012

Innehåll (Contents) 2012:2

Uppsatser (Articles)

Natur och historia i historikers självbiografier

Torbjörn Gustafsson Chorell


Fulltext (pdf)


Nature and history in the autobiographies of Swedish historians

Self-preservation is usually associated with biological drives and instincts. In the case of mankind, self-preservation has also been associated with selflove and the prevention of one’s own extinction by avoiding life-threatening situations. Self-preservation as a love of finite existence is also something that is at the heart of the historian’s endeavor. The historian’s love of finite existence and the idea of self-preservation have self-love in common. But the historian’s love also embraces other existences than his own. This love of finitude cannot be separated from a will to prevent the extinction of finite existences and to allow their existence to continue in history. The article traces the love of finitude in autobiographies written by Swedish historians in the last 150 years. In the analysis, nature represents everything that extinguishes finite existences and history represents the preservation of humans in time. I argue that this issue recurs in many autobiographies although often only mentioned in the margins as random utterances or comments made in passing. The texts analyzed are the autobiographies of Erik Gustaf Geijer (1783–1847), Wilhelm Erik Svedelius (1816–1889), Alma Söderhjelm (1870–1949) and Ronny Ambjörnsson (b. 1936).


Sweden, historiography, philosophy of history, 19th century, 20th century, autobiography, historians, finitude