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Lunn, S. (2019). The presence of the absence in Kjell Westö’s novel: “Hägring 38”. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 42(1-2):20-26.

(2019). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 42(1-2):20-26

The presence of the absence in Kjell Westö’s novel: “Hägring 38”

Susanne Lunn

The word ‘hägring’ (in English. ‘mirage’) can be understood in different ways: as an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved (wishful thinking); as an image in a mirror of something that is not there, but in another place, and as a sign of something that has not yet become visible, for instance, the first rays of sunlight on the horizon before the sun has risen. These meanings represent different ways in which presence and absence interplay, and are all illustrated in Kjell Westö’s impressive novel from 2013 for which he received the Nordic Literature Prize in 2014.

The action of the novel takes place during eight months in Helsinki from March to November 1938 and unravels how the past and present are woven together on a historical, societal and individual level. The present article will try to illustrate this.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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