Literature on the edge


Bergur Rønne Moberg studies Faroese literary and textual culture as a phenomen on the Western edge. The material being explored is modern literature, letterwriting and other texts in Faroese archivess. In one of his recent publications, Resten i Vesten. Verdenslitteratur i modernismens margin (2014) (The Rest in the West. World Literature in the Margin of Modernism), Moberg demonstrates that Faroese literary novels have contributed, as one of modernism’s overlapping geographies, to the global revision of the Western understanding of modernism and modernity.

Faroese literature has been read in a context that writes back to the technically, culturally, and literarily dominant Europe as a dialogical world literary writing back. It has occasioned Faroese literature to be explained as an outgrowth of cosmopolitan European literature, one that bears the marks of its close geographical placement to its European source but that nevertheless functions as a non-metropolitan literary/textual culture largely in line with non-Western literary/textual cultures due its striking mix of local content with modern and modernist formal elements. The Faroese authors provincialise and decentre the duo of modernism and modernity.


The particular non-metropolitan conditions as well as the ‘late’ influences of modernity are increasingly considered in an aesthetic and place-related/national self-conscious context, causing Faroese literature to come under global influence, both as a geography and as a literary/textual culture. Focus rests on the experience and figure of place as fundamental characteristics of Faroese literature. The Faroe Islands are among the smallest and latest conquered territories in Europe in terms of modern culture. This ‘delay’ forms the basis for an textual and aesthetically extraordinary situation in which dichotomies between modern and premodern, colonial and postcolonial, aesthetics and politics are being cancelled. Pushing mediating concepts to the forefront, the dissertation establishes a descriptive position that does not overly restrict the study of the shifts in coding, contact, and translational zones that are in constant interplay in Faroese texts in general.
The path that Faroese literature takes into the modern passes through the perception of simultaneity in various periods, including modernity and premodernity. In the attempt to retrieve that which has been ‘neglected’, Faroese culture in general has been asked to receive influences from outside in clusters, that is, has needed to relate to multiple stages of modernity simultaneously by, for instance, relating to numerous literary-historical eras and –isms at one time. Rather than falling back on conventional Eurochronological fixities of date, style, or –isms, all of which tether literary history to conventions of periodisation, my readings establish connections between modernity and premodernity, representing an untiming of Eurocentric historicist frames, which allows anachronic aesthetic phenomena to be placed on the same footing as modernism and modernity.

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