Hjälten mellan myt och historia


Swedish history 1945–2000
Torgny Segerstedt


Hero between myth and history: A study of Torgny Segerstedt’s posthumous reputation.

History and myth are always entangled in hero-worship. Historical analysis needs to understand this entanglement and to develop clearer means of demarcation between history and myth. Temporality, i.e. the hero’s connection to time, is a methodological device that can be used to separate historical and mythical understandings of heroism. Historical time is fundamentally contingent because it divides time into discrete non-related contexts, whereas mythological time is stable and regenerative and thereby offers up objects for identification. This article studies the posthumous reputation of the scholar and publicist Torgny Segerstedt (b. 1876) from 1945 to present times. During the Second World War Segerstedt was arguably Sweden’s most explicit opponent to Nazism. But his standing was very ambiguous since the only course of action embedded in his program was Sweden´s involvement in the war. The study concludes that both historical and mythological understandings of Segerstedt have existed from his obituaries and onwards, but that the general tendency is for the historical understanding of Segerstedt, including academic research, to completely give way to myth. Academic dissertations dealing with Segerstedt have been largely ignored in public discourse. In contrast, mythical understandings of Segerstedt have been supported by two privately funded foundations. It seems that from the 1990’s, Segerstedt has become the ideal object of identification for many journalists.