Historisk Tidskrift. Utgiven av Svenska historiska föreningen
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Historisk tidskrift 134:3 • 2014

Innehåll (Contents) 2014:3

Uppsatser (Articles)

Fiktion, hierarki och havets hårda arbete Skönlitteratur som källa till svensk maritim historia

Tomas Nilson

Fulltext (pdf)


Did it pay to go to sea? Workingmen’s wages at sea and on land in Sweden and Finland in the nineteenth-century

This article evaluates the use of fiction as a source to historical research, using portraits of life at sea during the interwar period in a selected number of novels as a test case. The novels, all written between 1924 and 1941, where highly regarded in their own time but are now mostly forgotten works. They belong to the genre of working class literature, and were very influential during the interwar period.

Instead of assuming that fiction is simply a mirror of societal practices and norms, fiction is viewed as being engaged in dialogue with society, with both parts influencing each other. The result of the study indicates that fiction can indeed be used as a fruitful and reliable source for understanding what life was like at sea (and in port) during the interwar period. Fiction gives access to the rationale of individual thoughts, choices and actions, while (fictional) descriptions of interiors and exteriors, milieus, working conditions, skills etc. provide an important framing to portraits of life at sea.



Sweden, Interwar period, Sailors, Fiction, Hegemonic masculinity, Stereotypes, Working conditions, Port Towns