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Evald Ferdinand Jahnsson (1844–1895) wrote at a time when the Finnish national movement was undergoing a transformation from an elite project to mass movement. In contrast to many other Finnish nationalists, Jahnsson was born into a rural lower-class family, but was privileged enough to get an education: a key to social mobility at the time. He began his career as an author writing in Swedish but also started to write in Finnish in the 1870s, known as the decade during which the “sense of Finnishness” was significantly reinforced, not only in formal and institutional education but also in literature and culture in general. Jahnsson became a teacher, journalist and writer who actively promoted Finnish literature and Finnish-language culture. Among other things, he wrote several historical plays, and in 1884, he published the first Finnish-language historical novel. Through analysing Jahnsson’s fictional texts as well as texts related to them, such as reviews, the preface to his novel and letters, this chapter follows Jahnsson’s language shift from Swedish to Finnish. It is an investigation on how one individual coped with feelings of loss, but also how feelings of loss would come to mark Jahnsson’s literary endeavours throughout his career. The chapter highlights not only how loss is embedded in the history of nationalism, but also how difficult it was to carry out this idea in practice.

In: Nineteenth-Century Nationalisms and Emotions in the Baltic Sea Region
In: Nineteenth-Century Nationalisms and Emotions in the Baltic Sea Region
A sense of loss is a driving force in most nationalist movements: territorial loss, the loss of traditions, language, national virtues or of a Golden Age. But which emotions charged the construction of loss and how did they change over time? To what objects and bodies did emotions stick? How was the production of loss gendered? Which figures of loss predated nationalist ideology and enabled loss within nationalist discourse? 13 scholars from different backgrounds answer these questions by exploring nationalist discourses during the long nineteenth century in the Baltic Sea region through political writings, lectures, novels, letters, paintings, and diaries.

Contributors are: Eve Annuk, Jenny Bergenmar, Anna Bohlin, Jens Grandell, Heidi Grönstrand, Maciej Janowski, Jules Kielmann, Tiina Kinnunen, Kristina Malmio, Peter Nørgaard Larsen, Martin Olin, Jens Eike Schnall, and Bjarne Thorup Thomsen.