|Abstract:||Genius, or in Swedish ‘snille’, was a much debated concept in the late 18th century. It was ambiguous in gender terms since it sometimes was associated with masculinity and sometimes femininity. In both cases genius was primarily considered to be owned by men.|
The paper deals with the Swedish writer Thomas Thorild (1759-1808) and his participation in the discussion about genius. He frequently talks of the manliness of the genius, in the sense of maturity and perfection. In other cases he sees a similarity between geniuses and women. This might be a way for him to distance himself as a genius from ordinary men, whom he considers stupid, insensitive and in possession of an animal-like strength, as opposed to the angelic strength of women and geniuses. By the use of metaphors Thorild creates counter images of noblemen, children, youths, savages, the mob, fools and animals, whose common denominator is their lack of the strong and virtuous feeling of the genius. In this way intersections between gender and ideas of age and class are raised. The paper will discuss how history of masculinity and perspectives of intersectionality can be combined to get a better understanding of the various meanings of the concept of manliness.