Pleijel, Agneta

Pleijel, Agneta
   A Swedish poet, playwright, and novelist, Pleijel writes mostly about the experience of creative women in an unsupportive patriarchal society. While her early work had a strong socialist tenor, she later came to focus more on problems associated with individual creativity. After a significant career as a newspaper and academic literary critic, Pleijel turned to playwriting. She had her debut with the play Ordning haärskar i Berlin (1970; Order Reigns in Berlin), written with Ronny Ambjörnsson, about the trial of the murderers of the socialist Rosa Luxemburg in Weimar Germany. The drama Kollontay (1979), based on the life of the Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontay, and on which she collaborated with the director Alf Sjoberg, became her definitive breakthrough. The Russian mathematician Sonja Kovalevsky was the subject of the film Berget pa manens baksida (1983; The Mountain on the Dark Side of the Moon), for which Pleijel wrote the screenplay. Kovalevsky is portrayed caught in a classic conflict between her intellectual commitments and the man she loves. Pleijel has also written the screenplay for Undanflykten (1986; The Escape).
   Pleijel's poetry further discusses questions associated with frustrated creativity. The collection Anglar, dvargar (1981; Angles, Dwarves) uses the tension between a fairy tale princess and a dwarf to give a mythical expression to the conflict between the creative and the mundane. Ogon ur en drom (1984; tr. Eyes from a Dream, 1991) presents the autobiographical impulse as essentially creative.
   There is a strong autobiographical component in Pleijel's first novel, Vindspejare (1987; Wind-Watcher), which has Java as its setting and tells about the life of Pleijel s maternal grandfather. The novel Hundstjarnan (1989; tr. The Dog Star, 1991), on the other hand, approaches the question of identity from the perspective of a girl who has to find a sense of identity while faced with going through puberty and also while having to deal with the presence of incest in her family. Fungi (1993) speaks in favor of holism by emphasizing the connectedness between humans and other elements of the world, while En vinter i Stockholm (1997; A Winter in Stockholm) returns to the problems of women who have to balance their intellectual needs with their desire for love. Lord Nevermore (2000) examines norms of masculinity prior to World War I by telling the story of two Polish friends who travel to Australia.
   Pleijel returned to drama with Standard Selection in 2000. Named for a brand of cheap Swedish whiskey, it is a critique of life in Sweden in the 1970s and was published in 2003 together with a companion piece in Vid floden: Tva pjaser (At the River: Two Plays). Vid floden features two old siblings—a brother and sister—who share conflicting memories of their mother. The theme of remembered relatives is continued in the poetry collection Mostrarna (2004; The Aunts), which features memories of Pleijel s own family and childhood.
   See also Theater.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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