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The melancholy interpreter has traveled

The Swedish idea historian and essayist Karin Johannisson died in November. Her books on the history of emotions, body and mind will continue to raise important questions for generations. 

 

The Belarusian author and Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksijevich writes in the beginning The war has no female face, originally published in 1985: "I'm not writing about the war, but about the man in the war. I do not write the history of the war, but the history of the emotions. ”

When I heard about Karin Johannisson's death on November 23, I was struck by the obvious coincidence between her and Alexeyevich's life projects, although the differences between them are also obvious: Alexeyevich is documentary and outreach in his search for living human experiences, while the historian of ideas Johannisson followed the long historical perspectives and immersed herself in an enormous textual material when she wrote the diverse history of the body, mind and emotions. But the similarities between them make them complement each other more than differ from each other: Both have a radical life project in showing that human experiences, feelings and sensations are as relevant and important a perspective as any other when writing our story. They are both characterized by not giving way to fear and discomfort, but rather making an effort to write it into our collective memory and avoid alienation. . .

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