"Sweden, a small nation, once the whole Europe was afraid of..." : The Portrayal of Sweden in the Czech Printed Sources, 1848 - 1914

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Title: "Sweden, a small nation, once the whole Europe was afraid of..." : The Portrayal of Sweden in the Czech Printed Sources, 1848 - 1914
Author: Lainto, Jana
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Filosofian, historian, kulttuurin ja taiteiden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för filosofi, historia, kultur- och konstforskning
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2015
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201512164031
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: General History
Yleinen historia
Allmän historia
Abstract: During the mid-19th century, Sweden was almost a completely unknown country in the Czech Lands due to the geographical distance and the lack of historical relations, aside of the Thirty Years’ War. However, from the 1860’s onwards, there was a visible increase of Czech interest in foreign countries, including Sweden. The objective of this thesis is to analyze how the portrayal of Sweden developed between 1848 and 1914. This is done by analyzing of the general reasons behind the increase of interest in foreign countries and with an in-depth look at the increase of Czech interest towards Sweden. The method used in the thesis is historical research, which critically analyzes primary sources, such as travelogues, articles in newspapers and magazines, and historical fiction published between years 1848 and 1914. The primary sources are compared to each other in order to establish similar and ambivalent themes in the portrayal of Sweden. The general interest in foreign countries is explained as a consequence of an overall modernization process, which started already during the last third of the 18th century and influenced industrial, political, social and cultural developments in the Czech Lands during the 19th century. The increase of interest in Sweden was initially the result of the overall interest in foreign countries from the 1860’s onwards, but which later developed into a genuine interest by the Czech intelligentsia. The research of primary sources shows that there was no homogenous portrayal of Sweden, but two different perspectives of how Sweden was portrayed in the Czech printed sources. The first one, the traditional one, connects Sweden mainly to the Swedish invasion of the Czech Lands during the Thirty Years’ War. This theme appears in a great number of historical novels, where Swedes are portrayed predominantly in a negative way. The second perspective developed through travelogues, written by Czech tourists and travelers who visited Sweden. The Thirty Years’ War is presented as something that happened a long time ago and which has nothing to do with the contemporary Swedes, praised for their friendliness, kindness, neatness and manners. By the beginning of the 20th century, the portrayals of ruthless, looting warriors coexisted with the modern portrayal of Sweden, which presented Swedes as “the French of the North,” with great advancements in the fields of engineering, women’s rights, arts and literature and children’s education.
Subject: Sweden
Czech Culture
19th century
historical fiction
Czech national history
historical consciousness
Josef Štolba
Josef Kořenský
Jiří Guth

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