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The Classics

Swedish literature is not only about crime. Swedish authors have given us a wealth of characters and situations including Astrid Lindgren’s tomboy Pippi Longstocking, Vilhelm Moberg’s intrepid emigrants, August Strindberg’s iconoclastic works, and Selma Lagerlof’s portrayals of rural Swedish life. All gained inspiration from the land of their birth.

  • Swedish author, August Strindberg (1849-1912)
  • Pippi, one of the most translated children's books

Swedish author, August Strindberg (1849-1912)

August Strindberg
August Strindberg (1849-1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, and essayist. His career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics. He is considered the "father" of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel. Recurrent themes in his works are power, the relation between men and women, religious doubt and social problems.

Selma Lagerlöf
Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940) is one of Sweden's most widely read and loved author and her work has reached readers far beyond the Swedish borders. In 1909, she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Some years later she became a member of the committee distributing this prize, the Swedish Academy. She debuted in 1891 with the novel Gosta Berling's Saga, which was followed by Invisible links in 1894 and Antichrist miracles 1897. Her best known book is The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson, which has been translated into many foreign languages. On journeys to Mideast, she met in Palestine some Swedish emigrants from the village Nås in the province of Dalarna. They inspired her to write the epos of Jerusalem, which added to her fame.

Pär Lagerqvist
Pär Lagerkvist (1891 — 1974) was a Swedish author who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951. Lagerkvist wrote poems, plays, novels, stories, and essays of considerable expressive power from his early 20s to his late 70s. Among his central themes was the fundamental question of good and evil. One of his earliest works is Anguish, a violent and disillusioned collection of poems. His anguish was derived from his fear of death, the World War, and personal crisis. He tried to explore how a person can find a meaningful life in a world where a war can kill millions for very little reason. "Anguish, anguish is my heritage / the wound of my throat / the cry of my heart in the world."

Vilhelm Moberg
Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1973) is most well-known for his four-novel series The Emigrants, often considered one of the best literary works from Sweden. The four novels, all translated to English and written between 1949 and 1959, describe one Swedish family's migration from Småland to Chisago County, Minnesota in the mid 19th century. Many of Moberg's works depict the lives of farmers, crofters and soldiers in his home province, Småland. Moberg lived the last years of his life with depression, and eventually he committed suicide by drowning himself in a lake outside his house. He left a note saying: "The time is twenty past seven; I go to search in the lake for eternal sleep". 

Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) is the world's 25th most translated author and has sold roughly 145 million copies worldwide. She made a name for herself as an author in 1945 with a book about Pippi Longstocking. It was an enormous success. She has written a great number of children books, other well-known books are Karlsson-on-the-Roof and the Six Bullerby Children book series. Many of her novels are based on her family and childhood memories and are set at the place where she was born, Vimmerby, in the province of Småland.

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