Fictions of Ambivalence: Social Uneasiness and Violence in Crime Fiction

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    Scandinavian crime fiction is recurrently concerned with the conditions and violent interruptions of democracy and the welfare state. Henning Mankell’s Wallander-series seems predominantly preoccupied by the disturbance of this idyllic scenery by violent acts. Something seems to be afoot and the Scandinavian welfare society seems to be suffering. The upper current in Henning Mankell’s stories show an idyllic manifestation disrupted by an undercurrent of “Swedish uneasiness”. Although democracy and social maintenance seem to be running well, underneath a violent anxiety dislocates the basic preconditions of a democratic welfare system.


    Different models present various ways of analyzing these currencies of idyllic scenery and violent cruelty, which is very present in Before the Frost, both novel and film – the revolving points in this paper. The undercurrent of unease might be a cultural unconscious of suppressed guilt and anxiety, or it can be dealt with as a general way of delivering social critique through fiction. Nevertheless, the order of society and the democratic scenery is, in the narrative, muddled by religious problems with Christian roots. Correspondingly, this paper reflects upon the violent disruption of democracy and the ambivalent characteristics of both violence, the police officer Wallander and democracy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2009
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventViolence and the Contexts of Hostility - Budapest, Hungary
    Duration: 4 May 20097 May 2009


    ConferenceViolence and the Contexts of Hostility


    • Crime fiction
    • Violence
    • Henning Mankell
    • Welfare State
    • Democracy

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