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Karen Swartz, Per Stille etc

From Swedenborg to Strindberg : esotericism in Swedish art and literature

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, so-called esoteric movements became increasingly popular in cultural and intellectual circles in Europe, not least in Sweden. Secret teachings, rituals and practices in alchemy, astrology, occultism and theosophy were predominant, with a belief in correspondences in the cosmos, living nature and transmutations. But esotericism goes back much further in time in Swedish history. Although such esoteric ideas were long considered heresy by the Church and thus driven underground, they have had a significant impact on Swedish culture.In this anthology, we bring together some of Sweden s foremost experts on the subject to explore the history of esotericism in Sweden and how its rituals, practices and traditions came to influence writers and artists such as August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, Viktor Rydberg, Hilma af Klint, Tyra Kleen and Carl Milles.

  • ISBN: 9789189425972
  • Published: 2024-05-30
  • Graphic design: Patric Leo
  • Translator: Ruth Urbom
  • Illustrated. 324 pages.


Kurt Almqvist is CEO at the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit.


Anders Hallengren received his doctorate for a dissertation on the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

David Dunér is a professor of the history of science and ideas at Lund University.

Elisabeth Mansén is Professor Emerita in the History of Ideas at Stockholm University. She specialises in Swedish cultural history, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Eva Haettner Aurelius is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Lund University.

Henrik Bogdan is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Gothenburg. His main research areas are Western esotericism, new religious movements and secret/initiatory societies.

Karin Ström Lehander is a PhD candidate at Åbo Akademi, where she is researching Tyra Kleen’s art and spiritual search.

Martin Liljekvist is an art scholar based in Stockholm, originally from the province of Dalarna. Since 2016 he has worked as a curator at Stockholm’s Millesgården Museum.

Niclas Franzén is an art historian specialising in Symbolist and esoteric art in Sweden around the turn of the twentieth century.

Olav Hammer is Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.

Per Faxneld is Associate Professor of the History of Religions at Södertörn University.

Per Stille is Associate Professor of Nordic Languages at Linnaeus University. He previously taught at Uppsala University and worked as an editor on the Swedish Academy Dictionary.

Simon Sorgenfrei is an Associate Professor in the Study of Religions at Södertörn University. He is also chair of the university’s Institute for Research into Multi-religiosity and Secularity (IMS).

Svante Nordin is Professor of the History of Ideas at Lund University.

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