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“A Strong House We Build to Protect Us in Need…” : On Welfare Metaphors and Welfare Critique in Works by Kirsten Thorup, Vibeke Grønfeldt and Jette Drewsen

  Anne-Marie Mai

  University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

  IKV, SDU, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark

   Abstract The Danish novelists Kirsten Thorup, Jette Drewsen and VibekeGronfeldt had their breakthrough as storytellers in the 1970s and today they aresome of the most celebrated contemporary Danish authors. The article looks moreclosely at how some of some of their works interact with the development of theDanish welfare state that emerges in the writers' youths. The welfare home and thewelfare family are core metaphors in their narratives and thereby show how theirnovels interact with the political welfare rhetoric of the period.

  Key words Danish literature; welfare narratives; novels on the welfare familyAuthors Anne-Marie Mai is professor of Nordic Literature at the University ofSouthern Denmark, she is the manager of research projects in welfare studies.Her research areas include welfare narratives, contemporary Nordic literature,the history of Nordic women's literature and 18th Century literature. In 2014 shewas elected a Fellow of the Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her recentpublications include Hvor litteraturennd sted, vol I-Ill (Where Literature takesplace) (Copenhagen 2010-2011), 100 Danish Poems: From the Medieval Periodto the Present Day, ed. Anne-Marie Mai and Thomas Bredsdorff (Copenhagen/Washington: Museum Tusculanum 2011),“1966:A Literary一HistoricalExperiment" in Scandinavica. An International Journal of Scandinavian Studies,53. 2(2014: 53一81).

  For generations, Kirsten Thorup, Jette Drewsen and Vibeke Gronfeldt have beenyardsticks for Danish critics, writers and readers. They had their breakthrough asstorytellers in the 1970s: Jette Drewsen in 1972 with her debut book,刀vad tcenkteegentlig Arendse [What was Arendse really thinking明,which scored a bullseye inthe heated sex-role discussion of the time; Kirsten Thorup in 1977 with Lille Jonna[Little Jonna], the first volume of the major series of novels about the gravitation ofa young girl from country to town; and Vibeke Gronfeldt in 1978, with Sommerensdude [The summer's dead], which is a searching, psychological portrait of twoyoung women in a rural environment that is on the decline.

  The three writers have often been read separately and described on the basisof their separate contributions to the renewal of a narrative prose, as for example inthe anthology Danske digtere i det 20. arhundrede田apish 20th century writers],Vol. III, 2001,in which Kirsten Thorup and Vibeke Gronfeldt are portrayed byanalysis of how they have discovered new paths for prose. Here the emphasis ison their experiments with the novel form in existential narratives about changes towomen's lives and the gradual extinction of the peasant culture. Monographs andPhD theses have been published as well as many university dissertations written inwhich the three authors feature.

  It is typical for the various analysis to call attention to the social thematicin the works. Seen from a literary criticism point of view, we are clearly dealingwith writers who in various ways make societal problems the subject of debate.But the characteristic of how this takes place is extremely generalised. Accountsoften describe how the writers deal with the migration of the 1960s from country totown, the disintegration of the old village community, the emancipation of womenand the psychological price paid for the liberation of the individual. But if onewishes to concretise the social thematic and make it more than just a broad contextand look more closely at how some of the works interact with the development ofthe welfare state that emerges in the writers' youths, it can prove necessary to find amore precise approach.

  In this connection, it is an advantage partly to focus on individual works, andpartly to choose a system of concepts that can place the political language of thewelfare state and artistic language in relation to each other.

  In the following, I take a closer look at three novels: Kirsten Thorup'sBa,1973(translated into English 1979), Jette Drewsen's Tid og sted [Time andPlace], 1978, and Vibeke Gronfeldt's Det rigtige [The Right Thing], 1999. Thesethree works have been chosen because they make the home and the family coremetaphors in their narratives and thereby show themselves interacting criticallywith the political welfare rhetoric of the period.

  One gains a closer understanding of the actual welfare rhetoric by includingideas from linguistic and sociological research about‘framing' and aboutthe metaphors and patterns of metaphors in everyday language as wellcontemporary idea from political philosophy about politics and art as partsconstantly on-going creation of, and struggle for, the ways in which the sensualthe sayable, words and things, are connected with each other.

  The Framing of Welfare

  In the establishment period of the welfare state a special welfare rhetoric emergesin one of the largest Danish political parties, the Social Democrats一a rhetoricthat gradually spreads to other political parties, either as variations on the welfaremetaphors or a critique of the same. The welfare rhetoric acquires its own setexpressions, core metaphors and stylistic figures that one can still hear echoesof in present-day political rhetoric. Certain critics of Social Democratic welfarerhetoric actually believe that political language in Denmark is saturated with SocialDemocratic welfare rhetoric

  The concept of framing has been used in sociological and linguistic research,among other things in investigations of how ideas and values crop up and areformulated in the political debate. The American sociologist John L. Campbellmentions how sociology studies the politicians' framing of their policy in orderto maximise its impact. Frames function as normative and cognitive ideas andlanguage patterns that are placed in the foreground of political debates. Forexample, the concept "economic globalisation" is used in the 1990s as framing forthe American shift to a neoliberal economic policy.

   According to the American cognitive language philosopher George Lakoff,framing is not mainly a question of politics or of creating political messages:"Framing" is not primarily about politics or political messaging, orcommunication. It is far more fundamental than that: Frames are the mentalstructures that allow human beings to understand reality一and sometimes tocreate what we take to be reality. But the discovery and use of frame doeshave an enormous bearing on politics. Given our media-obsessed, fast-paced,talking-points political culture, it is critical that we understand the nature offraming and how it can be used. (Lakoff 25)The idea of deep "frames" is related to Lakoff's and his partner Mark Johnson'sconcepts of the metaphors and conceptual patterns of everyday language, the so-called "image schemata" that enable us to comprehend the world around us. In thismode of thought, the metaphor is a basic human tool of understanding, one that isboth mentally and physically anchored. According to Lakoff, the metaphor is `themain mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and performabstract reasoning' (Lako均.When it comes to the study by cognitive semanticsof particular patterns of metaphors, a spatial pattern (the fact that we understandreality via a spatial metaphoric) and a part-whole pattern can be used in the studyof the deep framing of the welfare state and its objectives.

  The idea of the welfare state becomes spatial and concrete when it is visualisedas a home for the people and a societal family, or appears as a transferred epithet aswarm, helping hands and friendly voices that speak to the citizen. It is the thesis ofthis article that Kirsten Thorup, Jette Drewsen and Vibeke Gronfeldt have a specialoutstanding account with the welfare state, since in their works and texts they reactto some of the political frames and metaphorical structures and in various waysadopt a critical attitude to them via a honed linguistic awareness.

  But in order to understand this exchange between literature and society it isproductive to include ideas of the French philosopher Jacques Ranciere, who in anumber of publications has dealt in depth with modern and postmodern literatureand art. He is interested in both poetry and prose, and in general one can assert thatRanciere utilises a concept of politics that means he regards politics and literatureas parts of a constantly on-going creation of and struggle concerning the ways inwhich the sensual and the sayable, words and things, are connected with each other一politics and literature take part in a struggle concerning the entire social picture.Politics is first of all a way of framing, among sensory data, a specific sphereof experience. It is a partition of the sensible, of the visible and the sayable,which allows (or does not allow) some specific data to appear; which allowsor does not allow some specific subjects to designate them and speak aboutthem. It is a specific intertwining of ways of being, ways of doing and waysof speaking. The politics of literature thus means that literature as literature isinvolved in this partition of the visible and the sayable, in this intertwining ofbeing, doing and saying that frames a polemical common world. (Rancierel0)Ranciere conceives art and literature as possible contributions to the break withconsensus and with the regulation by those in power of the material world. It isthe combination of art's possibility to appear detached from other social interestsand its use of language in a broad sense that makes it important in emancipatoryprocesses. Writers and artists have the possibility to change the frames throughwhich we perceive the material world. Writing fiction is reframing the real, buildingup new relations between individual and collective, but, it should be noted, from anon-dominant societal position, where art can free itself from links to other socialinterests than itself as art. Thereby, modern literature has a special possibility tocreate dissension.

  So it is not the manufacturing of images of reality by literature that makesit involved in politics; it is on the contrary the possibility it has via language tointroduce phenomena into a common social space that creates the relation betweenpolitics and literature. Politics is a process of upsets, one in which interests andphenomena are brought out into the light. Literature is part of this process, becauseit has to do with anything at all that can be said and shown.Political Welfare RhetoricThe actual term welfare state emerges in Social Democratic language when theprime minister, Hans Hedtoft, uses the concept "the governed-by-the-peoplewelfare state" in the debate book Mennesket i Centrum [The Human Being inFocus] (Hedtoft 7).3 Here, inspired by the British political discussion of welfareideas, he combines the Old Norse word welfare with a concept of the state. Theword welfare has a long literary history in such writers as Holberg, Brorson,Ewald, Hans Christian Andersen and Grundtvig, who, in accordance with commonlanguage usage at the time, used the word in connection with the well-being,happiness, progress and good conditions of the individual both while in earthly lifeand beyond. Now the concept is linked to the state in a way already prepared forby the philosopher Harald Hoffding in his critical discussion in 1889 of Brandes'Nietzsche-inspired thoughts concerning so-called aristocratic radicalism, in whichindividualists seeking freedom and intellectuals were to ensure the future for themany. Harald Hoffding here formulates his `democratic radicalism' as a diametricalopposite to Brandes' ideas. Democratic radicalism is to ensure the welfare and goodlife of all. But Hedtoft goes all the way that lies just in front of Hoffding. Hedhoftlinks the welfare concept一or the welfare principle, as Hoffding calls it一byadding state organisation.4

  The political framing of the concept welfare and welfare state that HansHedtoft introduced means that the concept of welfare today most often refersto something people have in common. If the politicians talk about "welfare,""more welfare" or "lasting welfare," they do not mean the possibility of well-being and security for the individual in his or her personal life but the share ofthe individual in the common welfare一or common welfare pure and simple.Thereby, the welfare concept comes to form what George Lakoff calls a deep frame in the Danish political debate,5 even though the political ideas about the paths towelfare often go in highly different directions and the actual concept of the welfarestate can also change meaning and character depending on its context (Petersen,"Velfxrdsstaten i dansk politisk retorik" 23).

  In the mid 1950s, the concept of the welfare state was on the way to becominga negative framing in the political debate. The Conservative opponents of thewelfare policy used the concept "guardian state"(} nanny state), the term first beingused in 1956 by the Conservative Poul Moller as a criticism of the consequences ofSocial Democratic policy regarding the welfare state.

  The guardian concept was thematised in literature by Villy Sorensen in hisFormynderfortcellinger (Tutelary Tales, 1964). He deals with the guardian principlefrom psychological, religious, existential, social and political angles. His tales deal,among other things, with states and societies that assume the role of guardian oftheir citizens, since the citizens are either deprived of or themselves renounce theirpersonal and social freedom and responsibility, after which a dreary conformityand orthodoxy is victorious. Villy Sorensen himself claimed that he definitely hadnot depicted present-day society (Clausen 30) but to a greater extent had shownthat social development acquires its own negative logic unless people personallydevelop.

  The point of the tales, in this optic, is that the dawning welfare state couldend up as being a guardian-like control system if people are unable to developpsychologically. The negative political framing of the welfare state by theConservatives lost ground during the expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s,but it is still occasionally used, for example by several politicians from Venstre,the right-wing liberal party in Denmark.' In the mid 1960s, the deep framing ofthe welfare state starts to work, with certain core metaphors becoming distinct andinfluencing the political rhetoric of the other parties.

  On the threshold of the 1970s, when the development of the welfare stateculminates, the welfare state in Social Democratic rhetoric starts to appear as anarchitectural construction, a "folkhem"(home for the people) as the welfare state iscalled in Sweden. This home is without "class barriers," and where "reforms" and"security" can be implemented.

   So we are dealing here with a spatial pattern of metaphors, where the welfarespace is opposed to the "society of lack" that many Danes knew from the post-war period.8 In its 1973 working plan, the Social Democrats thoroughly describedthe "safety net" that was to be constructed under citizens in "the modern welfaresociety."9 The house metaphor is not substantial, but it forms a clear metonymic basis in the imagery used, and it has a reference back to the biblical metaphoricof the house and the temple building that was used in the labour movement songsfrom the end of the 19th century, where for example Ulrich Peter Overbuy madeuse of biblical expression when writing about the new society as "a strong housewe build to protect us in need" (Overby 1871).

   The right-wing liberal party, Venstre, had also started to adopt the welfareconcept. In 1969, Venstre talked about replacing "the cold society" by a "humansociety of well-being," and it quickly transpired that the welfare idea was linked tothe idea of new building in the form of modern villages or single-family residentialareas that ought to be spread out around the country, cf. the party programme Fremmod ar 2000 [On towards the year 2000]. For Venstre, the core metaphor of thewelfare state is not a functionalistic rented dwelling but a single-family house bythe village pond.

  In 1973, a crucial general election took place, with the old established partiesand their welfare ideas being challenged by various new parties. The so-called"Single-Family Party," Centrum Demokraterne, along with the Progress Party,Fremskridtspartiet, got into the Danish parliament. The Centre Democrat ErhardJacobsen, left the Social Democrats in protest against the party's policy towards thegrowing middle stratum of car and single-family-house owners, and the ProgressParty rode on a wave of protest against the burden of taxation and the growingpublic sector of the welfare state.

  "The landslide election" quickly became the popular term for the dramaticelection which meant that the old parties lost many seats, while the Progress Partyat one swoop became the second-largest political party in Denmark.

  The "landslide" metaphoric relates to a number of linguistic images thatthe old parties had liked to used, with such expressions as basis, foundation,reorganisation and expansion had implied the coming into existence of a societalarchitecture, a building that was safe and secure.

  With the "landslide election," the very basis for the welfare architecture and itscultural landscape seemed to be in danger. The chairman of the Social Democrats,Anker Jorgensen, had to hand over the premiership to Venstre's Poul Hartling, whoin his first New Year Speech in 1974 spoke of a need for a sanering(renovation)of the welfare state, which as he interpreted as expressing the will of the people.The Danish word used had definitely been chosen with care: something had to bechanged and modernised, but the welfare building was to endure.

   The building and space pattern also unfolds in the rhetoric of many of the newright-wing politicians. In the first programme of the Progress Party in 1973 the concept of "sanering"(renovation) is very central. The Social Democratic societyis seen in terms of imagery as being a dilapidated house that needs renovating,and Mogens Glistrup emphasises in a party-political letter to Poul Moller in 1973that the Progress Party wishes to strengthen "Denmark as a business" and deliverthe welfare state and its social "safety net" from the "plethora of paperwork" and"jungle of laws."`0We have Glistrup painting on the one hand a horror scenario ofan antediluvian despotism of paperwork, and on the other hand a dangerous SocialDemocratic jungle, an untamed world of nature that threatens the welfare state一aconcept that Glistrup in this context completely appropriates to himself.

  Even though Glistrup and his Progress Party did not have any major influenceon policy, he had captured a political platform in the Danish parliament, and hemade use of a political rhetoric that re-echoed in the whole of Danish society,challenging the prevalent, somewhat cautious architectural welfare metaphor,though with a clear reference to precisely core concepts in this metaphoric: thehouse, path, plot, growth, health and security net."Mogens Glistrup thus suppliedan almost performative linguistic turn in the political life of the time that had fargreater importance than his many political proposals (c# Kuur Sorensen 104).Welfare Metaphors at WorkAn important feature of the establishment of the welfare state was a dramaticchange of the old patriarchal family. A new family structure with two breadwinnersout at work, consisting of father, mother and children, rapidly gained ground inDenmark in the period from the 1960s and into the 1970s, and it was supportedby legislation and government resolutions concerning maternity leave, familyplanning, the expansion of day-care centres and care of the elderly (cf. Borchorst189 f#). So already in its developmental phase the welfare state is on its way intoa societal situation where nothing is given in advance as regards father, mother,grandparents or children. The family becomes a temporary community, looselyconnected by sex roles that are also rapidly being reformulated as the state assumesthe role of the framework around a security societal family that lives in a "home ofthe people."

  On the front pages of the Social Democratic programmes one can noticethe changes. The picture on an election programme from 1951 shows a motherwith two sons and a daughter standing outside their small non-detached, wavinggoodbye to the father who is off to work. The caption beneath is the word "Security."

  The mother and children belong to the home, but the entire family is in fact onits way out of the terrace house, and the younger girl would clearly like to be offwith her father. The picture looks like an omen that in the generation of the youngergirl women too will be part of the labour market, and that the state will come totake over many of the tasks previously taken care of by the patriarchal family. Themembers of the family are on their way away from each other in various directions:work, school and institution, and the welfare state are to be the secure framework,the pleasant non-detached house that encloses the life of the family.

  Sixty years later, the Social Democrats choose a different metaphoric toexpress their welfare ideals. In their programme of principles from 2011 we seea little girl sitting on a jetty, her face turned away from us, out towards the opensea. She is hugging a doll. She is alone, and the caption just says "handen pahj ertet"(=hand on the heart=in all good conscience, honestly and truly). Herethe welfare state is presented as a kind of invisible lifeguard-parent that has takenover responsibility for the individual's life. The family relations have lost theirsignificance, but the child's biological parents can rest assured一the welfare statetakes care of and watches over every single member of society, like a lifeguard overthe little girl on the great jetty of life. The welfare state is not there for families; it isthere for each and every citizen. It is no longer presented as a secure single-familyhouse and a cosy societal family but as a surrounding world with opportunities anddangers and as an invisible being that is always there for individuals一the handthat touches the heart.

  The changes to family relations were supported by the fact that Denmark,after a municipal reform in 1971, experiences a centralisation of the administrativesystem of the public authorities and of such welfare institutions as hospitals andschools. The economic crisis, which really accelerates after the major energy crisisthat starts in 1974, leaves long-lasting traces through the 1970s and has a profoundinfluence on the development of society up to the turn of the millennium. Thereare geographical areas and occupations that never recover after the crisis and aregradually phased out. The welfare developments thus also become geographicallyout of synch with each other. Developments take place more quickly in the majortowns than in local areas in the country, but everywhere they are promoted by theidea of growth and development.

  The programmes of the political parties around the mid 1970s are full ofplus-words relating to well-being, growth and security. venstre's programme from1975 has the title "We want to make society warmer”一which could, more orless, also have been said by the Social Democrats, if there had not been certain oldcore metaphors to cultivate, such as "solidarity." The Social Liberal Party [DetRadikale Venstre] stands united under the headline "A step on the way to a bettersociety."The Social Democrats invite social debate with their motto "Solidarity,equality and well-being"; The Socialist People's Party expresses the wish for "Anew development一a new society" (1976), while The Conservative People'sParty, also in the mid 1970s, repeats its headline from 1972 "Security in one's ownhome."

   Under the influence of the crisis, the Social Democrats state that they haverecognised "that there are boundaries for growth in quantity. For growth in qualitythere are no boundaries." It is here a question of creating "enhanced quality oflife." "security for all" and "a feeling of belonging to society," also via economicdemocracy.

  The way to growth and well一being takes a different direction withvenstre, where the emphasis is on "co-responsibility" and "co-influence" anda strengthening of "the local community" if well-being and growth are to bepromoted. It is stressed that the rationalisation of schools, hospitals, transport andpolice has jeopardised many values. "Did one think of the children's well-being inthe school? Did one think of the increased distance between the patients and theirrelations? What became of the individual in all this? What became of the joy inworking?"

   The idea of the local community and the values which women's care ofchildren and the old once represented are eagerly advanced in several of the partyprogrammes. But the point is that the traditional tasks and skills of women asregards the family are now best taken care of by society. Growth and well-being arewithin all areas conditioned by the development of a close, warm society that maywell resemble the old nuclear family, but with the key point that the state has takenthe place of the reigning head of the family.

  What gender, though, is the welfare state? Is it a father or a mother? As aparent it resembles a bricolage of cultural values that relate to both the patriarchalfamily's male and female sex roles. It is a commanding and caring construction thatcan manifest itself both as warm, helping hands, as the far-reaching arm of the law,as the voices of teachers or as an electronic GPS, sewn into one's clothes, that is toprevent the senile from getting lost from the nursing home.

  The relation between citizen and state often has a physical dimension inthe form of treatment, care and attention. The individual citizen meets changingrepresentatives of the state, but the welfare state finds it difficult to manifestitself as a unified entity or figure一it is a space or a metonymic pattern: it ishands, voices, text, aids, teaching, treatment and flow of money. The metaphorof the house and the family therefore becomes important for politicians in their concretisation of the idea of the welfare state. The welfare house and the family ofsociety gather together the metonymy and make the idea visible to citizens.

  Kirsten Thorup, Vibeke Gronfeldt and Jette Drewsen work quite deliberatelywith the special possibility modern literature offers to, on the one hand, imitateall discourses (political, religious, scientific, personal) and, on the other hand,to interpret them in different ways and inscribe them into a special, subjectivediscourse (c# Dines 100). In their literary publications there are involved in themany changes to society and culture that take place in the period in which theymake their debuts, but the welfare thematic is often not obvious and programmed,as it is in such an older prose writer as Martha Christensen (1926-95), whose debutnovel from 1962 Ucer god ved Remond [Be nice to Remond], relates in a simple,somewhat naive realism the story of a mentally retarded boy who is placed in achildren's home.

  The welfare themes in the three writers and their generation weave in andout of linguistic and aesthetic challenges of contemporary ideas and values, alsoincluding the political welfare rhetoric, both the deep framing of the welfare stateand the strong patterns of metaphors that emerge to do with house, home, familyand growth.Shortly before the important general election of 4 December 1973, which turnedthe political situation in Denmark upside-down, Kirsten Thorup's debut novelBawas published, which can be read as a linguisticaesthetic challengingof the welfare metaphoric. The novel did not mark Kirsten Thorup's popularbreakthrough, but it is one of the works that has subsequently been the subject ofboth other writers' interest and intense analysis. Kirsten Thorup says about Baby:"The world that the language in Baby paints is very fluid and lacks cohesion. It isquite deliberate that there is no difference between whether the book describes atable or a thought, but links all the clauses and sentences with `and"' (Juhl 102).

  Baby is based on the young writer's and young mother's own experienceof the Copenhagen precinct of Vesterbro, full of old-fashioned prostitutes andpickpockets, but also typified by slums, crime and hard drugs. It is a social fieldundergoing a transformation from an almost cosy old-fashioned criminal andslum precinct to a tough urban district populated by the losers and outsiders of thewelfare state. The action centres on a circle of people living in this environment.It is a gallery of big-city existences in a social and psychological conflict withthemselves and each other. Thorup's novel deals with single parents, petty criminals, unemployed, abortion-seekers and drug-addicts who are precisely thetypes who ought to be included in the socialising safety net of welfare legislation,but who apparently fall through the loose mesh, and where at last they are "caughtup with," the help offered seems a parody and frightening.

  Thorup emphasises that the description of the characters has almost beenstripped of stories about childhood or geographical past. The characters only existin their now and present habitats; they are without psychological depth and functionas mirror for each other.

  The focusing of the novel on the present time results in the reader havingdifficult in following a temporal progression: it seems as if the time-span of thenovel is about a year, around 1971-72. The narrative starts in February, and onecan follow a progression up to September and into the winter months, but thesequence is interrupted by illogical jumps between seasons in several chapters,`Sandone soon discovers that place and space are more important for the characters thantime. Time is stationary, while place and space bind and hold the characters in avacuum and interspace between life and death. Place and space are precisely notsecure places to stay, but are some sort of non-places the characters move aroundbetween without either dwelling or existing there. While the contemporary politicalrhetoric is overflowing with concepts of a welfare future that is being created andshaped here and now via reforms, time does not make any impact on the universeof the novel. While the political rhetoric implies that `in time' advance and progresscomes, time flows without direction and amorphously in Thorup's novel.

  The novel centres on the middle chapter "I Am a Soft Ice, I Am a ToughGuy," which deals with the antique dealer and money lender Eddy, who the othercharacters are dependent on. The car salesman Marc owes Eddy money; Mareswife with the car-name Cadett, sleeps with him for money; the gay couple Ivanand Ric are his henchmen and gorillas; Leni, who earns money from translatingporno, is his former wife; the single mother Karla with the boyfriend, the upper-class boy David, rent one of his slum properties; the transvestite Jolly Daisy appearsin the club milieu that Eddy frequents and meets a number of the other characters:the young girl, Nova, who has run away from home; and the dishwasher, Susi, whois in love with David and becomes a "gay-mother" for Ric and Ivan.

  Eddy is a kind of criminal "spider" who holds the others caught in his webof power, violence and money. He is the patriarch in a criminal parallel societybeyond the law and order of the welfare state. The paradox, however, is that thewelfare state makes use even so of Eddy's power and his unscrupulous propertyspeculation. The welfare institutions make their appearance in the universe of the novelwhen Marc, hopelessly in debt after having lost his job, and his wife decide tomove into The Men's Home (an institution where men with problems can spend thenight free of charge), an organisation to help drug addicts, and then Nova and Sonjamurder a random car-driver and end up at a rural borstal, the human climate ofwhich proves to be as cold as ice, despite the beautiful farming idyll with animalsand fields. The welfare institutions that ought to help to bring people back intosecure frameworks actually keep their clients on the periphery of society, and witha view of an abyss.

   The flat that the state eventually offers the single mother Karla is a parody of adwelling一it is unhealthy, dilapidated, a pure slum dwelling that ends up causingthe death of Karla's daughter一it also happens to be owned by the villain Eddy.

  The novel does not apportion guilt or responsibility一it blames neithersociety nor individuals, but shows the welfare society to be an ambiguous structurein which people try to survive by establishing, for better or for worse, humanrelations and a "family." The welfare institutions, however, undermine preciselythese relations, since they strive to take over the role of the family and placethemselves in its stead. So the institutions take measures against the makeshiftfamilies that the characters attempt to form. The characters are admittedly includedin the country's laws and welfare, but it is precisely these laws and welfare thatisolate them from each other and banish them to the periphery of society. Thewelfare architecture is neither secure nor healthy as either a symbolical or physicalplace to live.

  The novel thus assimilates and processes political and socio一analyticaldiscourses in such a way that they are at the same time both used and rejected. On the basis of Ranciere's ideas about literature and politics, one can claimthat the novel at the level of form and aesthetics underlines the importance ofartistic language as a discourse that can critically interpret the language andconcepts of politics and thematise how staple societal metaphors can artistically bechallenged.

  When the romantic all-mother/all-father/all-baby, the transvestite Jolly Daisy,finally invites the porno translator Leni in to a nativity-play-like scene with night-stars and heavenly peace, Kirsten Thorup attempts in a way to reformulate abiblical metaphoric of the holy family and the child that was born in a manger. Onecan view this final scene as an allegorical comment on the secure societal familyof the political rhetoric, a comment that points out that one has to start right fromsquare one with the biblical metaphoric of the labour movement and also think in new gender constructions if the societal house is to be built out of closeness andhumanity.

  Time Creates New Wounds

   While Thorup's characters fight to establish alternatives to both the patriarchalfamily and the new state welfare's father-and-mother, Jette Drewsen's novel Tid ogsted (Time and Place, 1978) tells of a characteristic tendency to drain the familyof its functions and tasks in the establishment phase of the welfare state. The novelportrays a group of people一school friends, relations, acquaintances一dippinginto various points in time from March 1961 to October 1976. The family appears as a social relation that is becoming increasingly unstable.It is no longer a rock-solid `father house' that the women fight to break free

   Like Kirsten Thorup, Jette Drewsen challenges a conception of time thatmoves forwards and brings progress with it, as she breaks down the traditionalchronology of the novel: she starts with an account of the characters in April 1974and then moves back to March 1961, followed by March 1966 and October 1968.The final chapter can be dated to October 1976. In the course of the almost fifteenyears a number of the characters have become parents, but the family structure thatthey themselves have experienced as children is rapidly becoming a thing of thepast. Their own parents have become old age pensioners who arrange their livesand speak in a way that the family's grandchildren simply cannot comprehend. Thesocial and cultural development creates a language gaps that kept people apart fromeach other.

  Jette Drewsen portrays various variations of the new family relations in thenovel: a middle-class married couple (the doctor Ejvind and the doctor's secretaryElise) with half-adult children, on their way towards infidelity and divorce; aworking-class family (the checkout assistant Ingrid and the taxi chauffeur Niels),who stay together despite the man's infidelity; a lesbian university teacher (Helle),who lives on her own; a young unemployed academic woman (Birgitte), whomoves into a commune with her child and deselects her child's father; a womanjournalist (Laila), who when very young had an abortion without her parentsknowing about it, but who as an adult decides to have her child when she becomespregnant after a one-night stand (with Ejvind) and to find a social father for thechild. This she finds in an elderly man who functions as both father, grandfatherand child in the family一for as long as it lasts. He is shunted out of the makeshiftfamily rather fortuitously after a somewhat scary "evening at home."

  When Helle and Ejvind's mother dies, death is not felt to be a striking or important event by those left behind一it is got over quickly, quietly aanonymously. Helle uses the death as an excuse to visit a female friend sheinterested in as a sex partner, while Ejvind takes a sleeping powder. Later, the twointellectual siblings start to `theorise' about the mother's death, since the actualemotional relation seems to have disintegrated. The daughter-in-law, Elise, feelsherself hard-pressed and "deprived of the right to grieve for someone who had beenclose to her" (Drewsen 173).In the course of the 15 years covered by the novel, the single, divorced parentbecomes a characteristic figure, and those who do not get divorced during those 15years weigh up their situation and think about a possible way out of the "decorativefamily" (Drewsen 177).

   Emotionally, however, the characters have cometo a standstill: they are caughtin the childhood they never managed to round off, because the development owelfare got rid of childhood's form of the family "overnight," soto speak, beforetheytheirwere ready to take over control of their lives themselves, and they stillmissparents as parents. Their hold a field of possibility open,rather than assumethe role of responsible participants in close human relationships. Nothingand intimacyis surethat noany longer except the need of the individual for a closenesslonger has a social space. It is a difficult project to constantlyhave to balance the family relationship and one's own role.The individual breaks free of the family ties that have limited people morallyand socially, but the emancipated life is full of emotional costs and restlessness.And at such a time of upheaval, it is not really acceptable to be content with one'slife, one's husband and one's children. The checkout assistant Ingrid is almostashamed about still being in love with her husband. She feels it is problematic thatshe has no desire to liberate herself, and that she tolerates his relationship withother women.As acounter-image to the imploding family there is the depiction in themiddle of the novel of women's lives in a high-rise block of flats where some othe characters live for a while. The women meet in the wash house in the basementwhere they exchange their experiences with and of children, marriage and work.They are on maternity leave, are housewives or have half-day jobs, and in that wayare neither submerged in family life or work. There is a kind of "ritual intimacy(ibid 107) between the women of an almost mythical nature. "The womenwell" is the archaic title of the chapter about the wash the One can drawthe end of Kirstena parallel between this scene and the image of the holy family atThorup's novel ,although the conception of the alternative to the imploded family in Drewsen has a form closer to reality and links up withideas in contemporary housing. The high-rise block becomes a small welfare idyll where, even if one doesnot "matter to each other," one is at least able to behave humanely, consideratelyand empathetically. The actual form of housing with flats makes it possible forthe women to pop into each other's homes and share washing machines in thebasement. This social mixing promotes conversations, and on the day in 1966 thatthe chapter describes there is a TV transmission of the wedding of the Dutch crownprincess to a German. Here the state even displays a human face, with the picturesof a young successor and her husband to be!

  The women use the TV broadcast as an occasion to talk about their ownweddings, their married lives and their children. The newly married Elise doesnot join them in the TV room to begin with, but manages even so to ask the moreexperienced women about "additions to the family" during their time togetherin the basement wash house. "Yes, but when it's suddenly there like that, a childyou've not known before at all, can you actually find time for it and afford it?Tell me, have you got into trouble or something, Ingrid said and laughed.Well, not trouble exactly, I'm married after all, but.Are you quite sure?Notcompletely. And it wasn't precisely the idea.It's very rarely precisely the idea,Margit said" (Ibid 100). The description of the child as a stranger who disturbs therelationship between man and woman displays the challenges brought about by thenew aspects of married life.

  The intimacy between the women is greater than between spouses, evenbosom friends will not share everything. Margit declares that she stays with herhusband because she can't be alone; Ingrid recalls her first boyfriend and wouldlike to meet him again, but enjoys her husband, Niels, also sexually, and thinks thathe resembles the bridegroom in the TV wedding. The chapter about the women at"the well" sketches a small welfare idyll where the women are neither condemnedto loneliness, the twosomeness of marriage or the patriarchal family. But the 11 isonly a "breather" between the many changes taking place in society and the family.

  When Laila becomes pregnant, she manages without her family's knowledgeor help from her boyfriend to get an abortion based on her mental condition一thenovel takes place long before the introduction of free abortion. The meeting withthe hospital is as cold as ice一and the staff is full of hypocrisy. Everyone knowswhy Laila has been admitted一because she wants an abortion一but officially itis classified as pelvic infection. She is referred to a male psychiatrist, a consultantdoctor who interrogates her in an insulting way about her sexual habits while putting on a smiling face and suggesting they use first names. He finally speedsup the conversation; after interesting details about condoms and pubic hair all hewants to do is get the "case" over and recommend an abortion:The consultant doctor asked, more quickly now, the patient answered alsoquickly, he asked what she felt when she saw a pram, she answered insecurityand despair, he asked what she had thought in her darkest hours, sheanswered abortionists and suicide, he asked what she thought when she saw ahandicapped child, she answered fright. (Ibid: 69)Hospital communication demonstrates the incapacity of the professional helpersand their curious looks into a situation in which the family of the young girl iscompletely absent and is to be kept in the dark about a pregnancy that is regardedas shameful. Later in the novel we see another hospital situation, where the doctorshows a lack of consideration: Gert studies the X-rays of one of his patients,somewhat absent-mindedly, while talking to his mistress.He leant back slightly and read the name on the case record. Then he lookedup at the photos again and said it was a good thing it wasn't someone oneknew and was fond of who looked like that inside. There couldn't be long togo now. (Ibid 169)The welfare institutions, in the optic of the novel, simply lack human qualitiesand become untrustworthy as replacements for the family in relation to children,the elderly and the sick. In Drewsen, the welfare institutions are male, in the formof doctors who believe they have the power of life and death, although also thewomen who work in the institutions lack the capacity to care.

  The characters do not mature and their welfare lives have to be told piece bypiece and divided into short situations and intermezzos. Neither a happy outcomenor a complete tragedy are possible. Life, the changes and difficulties, simplycontinue year in and year out一strangely endlessly.The Cost of GrowthWhile Kirsten Thorup and Jette Drewsen show the schism between disintegratingforms of the family and the emergence of new welfare-institutionised parents, wefind the growth metaphoric of the welfare state dealt with, among other things,in Vibeke Gronfeldt's novel Det rigtige (The Right Thing, 1999), which is a contemporary novel, written on the threshold of the new millennium. Thenovelooks both backwards and forwards in time, while telling thestory of Ena Jakobsenwho is delivery woman for a laundry in a small peripheral community that idominated by old people and odd-balls. Ena spends all her spare time maintaininher family's nursery, which was ruined when the convenience shops started timport vegetables from all over the world on a large scale. Now Ena takes carethe nursery, showing it to people as a kind of museum and cultivating magnificspecimens of vegetables and flowers which she, like someself-appointed welfarworker gives away to the local elderly, weak and various specially selected groupsEna has always striven to do things rightly and properly. She was broughtto live up to an ideal of "a nice girl." "The right thing" represents the good, usefuand well-carried-out piece of work; "the right thing" is the moral norms, virtues ancrules of rural society in relation to the family, the social community and the femahsex. "Theright thing" is to contribute actively to the well-being of the family, thmaintenance of the community and mastering one's sex role."As a child and teenager, Ena was acompetent girl who also managed to keethe nursery afloat economically when her father fell ill and her maternal grandfathehad to give up. Now most of Ena's projects fail, except the nurserymuseumhere she always keeps abreast of the slightest sign of any decline. Everythingscrupulously ordered and maintained. Ena gets one step ahead of the inevitablwear and tear of materials: "It became almost better than when it was in use. Thwear and tear wasless. She could expand.[…]It was all ready for use. All that hacto be done wasto press a button, her mother said proudly." (Gronfeldt 23) Ena habecome a female inheritor of her ancestors' dreams of a nursery,but the dreamhave been transformed into a museum extravaganza after the changes tosodaand working life thatentailed.

  The story of Enawhich she clings.modernisation and the development of the welfare statehavends badly, and it is her anger that takes her over the edge tEna is angry that the growth which ispart of the development of the welfarstate has led to the very basis of the family's existence withering away; she iangry that her proficiency and industry, her loyalty to the "well-mannered schoolis not rewarded by the development of society, but instead is punished一evemocked一and her loyalty leads socially to her becoming increasingly isolatedShe is angry at being angry, and her anger is hard to place. It is admittedly Ena whcshouts and scolds, but the replies and conduct that come from the representativeof the welfare institutions and her work colleagues actually contain an aggressionand anger that hit Ena hard and are felt to be physical violence. Ena is the one whoexpresses the anger, but she is not the sole cause of it.

  Vibeke Gronfeldt develops the anger issue of the novel by introducing someof the core metaphors of the welfare state that deal with growth, development well-being into her universe and by showing them in a critical light.

  In the optic of the novel, the welfare system works and yet does not work, forexample in relation to Ena's younger brother, Oscar. He is a drug-addict, formerlyconvicted and mentally ill, and as such has been installed in his own flat and hasgot a light job at a library. But the welfare system and the male figures of authoritylack the human understanding, solicitude and patience that the women exercisedin the patriarchal family of the former society. The policeman who comes at therequest of the neighbours to make Ena see reason and calm her down does notdiscover just how bad things are.

  The welfare state knows best, but it does not see things particularly clearlywhen it comes to providing care and security, and refuses to recognise Ena'searnest struggle to retain the values and world of her family. She ought to abandonthe nursery, send her mother to a nursing home, get herself a job or apply for socialsecurity benefit!

  Ena manages to procure a financial help for her nursery by becoming achauffeur for a laundry that, among other things, serves social clients, and she feelsthat she is now at last on her way towards what is `right'. The clean laundry helpsto get both the social clients, children, drug-addicts and formerly punished backonto an even keel. "Ena Jakobsen believed in the result of common efforts. Thoseof the local authorities, police, doctors, school. It is possible, what's right" (Ibid13). Ena uses her eyes and tells of mishandled children in the homes round aboutthat she gets to see, but the social workers and council workers say they knoweverything in advance. Her observations are ignored, and she gets the impressionthat social workers, educationalists and doctors consider her a naive person who isa nuisance. She stops noticing what takes place around her. Only the bitter feelingsinside her growth at the same rate as the well-formed apples in her garden.

  One can view the two "activities" in Ena's life: the nursery of her childhoodand the laundry of her adult life as societal metaphors: the nursery represents theold, patriarchal local community, where time and place, working life and family lifewere in balance. The nursery is an enterprise with meaningful work assignmentsand a solid basis of existence for the men, women and children of the family.Furthermore, the nursery contributes to a local division of labour, since it providesthe local area with the vegetables, the fruit and the flowers that the more specialised farms and workmen of the local area do not have time to cultivate themselves. Thefamily works at the nursery in harmony with the seasons and uses nature withoutexploiting it, even though the use of toxic pesticides starts to increase in the courseof Ena's childhood and adolescence. The father's illness is also taken care of withinthe framework of the family, since Ena一as if she was his son一simply takesover his work. This shift in the traditional division of labour between the sexesis marked symbolically by the fact that Ena steps outside the moral order of thelocal community, becomes sexually active while unmarried一even pregnant. Shemanages discreetly to get a half-illegal abortion carried out by the local doctor.The change in the sex roles gives her a certain power over her own body, butalso increases the possibility of her inflicting pain and suffering on herself. Theincreased use of toxic pesticides in the nursery, the protracted illness of the fatherand Ena's sexuality and abortion are thus signs that neither the old sex roles nor theold order of society can be maintained.

  The warm, close, responsible and solitary growth society, where the femalecaring assignments are to be society's responsibility and that politicians spoke ofin the early 1970s when Ena was young, wither with the increasing centralisationand the economic interventions that comes with the expansion of the welfare state.The productive `greenhouse' is replaced by the servicing and universalistic welfarelaundry, whose rationalised services can be accessed by both the doctor's familyand the social clients一their economic capacity being duly taken into account, itshould be noted. But the laundry only provides "surface treatment."

  When Ena's anger finally overpowers her, she burns the nursery down to theground. She is given a suspended sentence, and the welfare state steps in, as Enaand her mother are placed in sheltered housing. "Now she is safeguarded and onlyneeds to choose the right thing and do the right thing" (Ibid 307). But "the stillnessfills up with meaninglessness. Or the meaning is emptied and echoes in the lateafternoon when the postman has driven past" .

  In the concluding chapters of the novel, Ena takes to the bottle, is raped andends up being pumped out with a broken arm and in the course of her confuseddownward spiral she passes a large boulder in the breakers. She embraces the stoneand suddenly feels understood, believed in and remembered.

  The image does not imply any redemption or release, but if Ena has not gotsolid ground under her feet, she has at least a very hard stone in her embrace.The story of Ena has comprised the elements: earth (the nursery), water and air(the laundry) and fire (the burning down of the nursery). The stone, as an old,volcanic material, unites all the elements, and the concluding images give the novel a symbolic touch that underlines the fact that it is not exclusively a realisticanalysis of society but a complex artistic image of the uncertain feelings that arealso connected to life and sex when placed under pressure by the development of amodern society.

   The novel does not idealise the old local society with the nursery as a lostparadise, a societal Garden of Eden; it captures Ena in a number of strong glimpsesin which we perceive both the hard toil of the old world and the just as hardemancipation of the individual in the new world.

   In the novel, Vibe Gronfeldt rejects an idealisation of the past or amythologizing of an evil and ramshackle present, where it is a shame for theperipheral areas, for women and the elderly; but she is interested in how angercomes into being and is fuelled when Ena is unable to find her rightful place inlife, and when her self-observations cause her both to grow to giant size and toshrink to absolutely nothing. Gronfeldt gives this imbalance and this anger a voice,showing it to be a force that grows out of what, unstated, has disappeared duringthe development of the welfare society and its adaptation to economic crises.

  In Vibeke Gronfeldt, the explanations cannot be pushed on the back burner,and the language of the novel becomes as restless and anxious as the charactersthemselves: Ena's life cannot be reduced to an effect, but not be summed up inother ways either. The descriptions both conceal and reveal other meanings all thetime.

   Two different types of art are mentioned in the novel: the recent arrival EdelBorg's complete failure of a performance of sections of West Side Story and LaTraviata and Schubert lieder, and the virtuoso performance by the singer MarianneBerg of extracts of Verdi in the church. The two types of singing complement eachother as an image of the fact that art may stretch from bel canto to shrieking andsqualling if it is to approach the human and be open for interpretation. And it isquite characteristic that the two types of art are executed by women一it is thefemale sex that is placed under the severest pressure by the new welfare life, andthat therefore calls for artistic interpretation.

  The women end up by carrying out a self-annihilating gesture in maintaining asocial order that, with far too little success, took over their responsibility and tasksin the family, in the name of progress, emancipation and welfare.

  The welfare state itself appears at the end of the novel as steps, voices,friendly hospital orderlies and friendly helpers with nice, shiny trays with foodin the sheltered housing. The welfare state is anonymous metonymic remains ofsomething has gradually become rather indefinably human.

  The helping hand, which is one of the welfare state's strongest metonymiesand which has been used both in connection with health campaigns and protestsagainst reductions of social benefits, is here shown in its anonymity and itsdifficulty in trying to be caring and considerate."From her sheltered housing, Enahas a view of a field where in time more social housing is going to be built: she isquite literally becoming hemmed in by welfare.

  But then she nevertheless finds the great fairytale stone at the end of the work,and this is perhaps precisely what she is need of. To embrace something large andincomprehensible, the cold stone from the beginning of time brings a peace to herbody that Ena has not known before. The semantic universe of the novel thus opensout towards what is uninterested, untold and uncertain from a human and socialpoint of view. The art of novel writing continues.

  TheTid og sted and Det rigtige are examples of how thelinguistic framing of the welfare state and its metaphorical patterns are investigatedand challenged in some of the most important oeuvres of the welfare period. Asan extension of the ideas of Jacques Ranciere about literature and society, one canclaim that the three novels bring phenomena to do with the change of the familyand the cost of growth into a common social space and help to make a critique ofthe core metaphors of political language sayable and audible.

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