Fridegard, Jan


Fridegard, Jan
(1897-1968)
   A Swedish novelist and short story writer, Fridegard was the son of statare, people who lived serflike lives on large estates, where they provided the farm labor. With very little education, he took whatever work he could find as a young man. His major literary work is a trilogy about his former self, written from the perspective of a more mature man, consisting of Jag, Lars Hard (1935; tr. I, Lars Hard, 1985), Tack for himlastegen (1936; tr. Jacob's Ladder, 1987), and Barmhartighet (1936; tr. Mercy, 1987), in which the protagonist is a cynical and lazy young man who has little sense of solidarity with his class. Fridegard continued the story about Lars Hard in the novels Harar min hand (1942; Here Is My Hand) and Lars Hard gar vidare (1951; Lars Hard Keeps Going).
   Another trilogy is set during the Viking Age. Consisting of the volumes Trägudars land (1940; tr. Land of Wooden Gods, 1989), Gryningsfolket (1944; tr. People ofthe Dawn, 1990), and Offerroäk (1949; tr. Sacrificial Smoke, 1990), it portrays the coming of Christianity to Sweden and offers a detailed psychological portrait of a Viking Age slave named Holme, whose life is not unlike that of the statare almost a thousand years later. The novels Lyktgubbarna (1955; The Will-o'-the-wisps), Flyttfåglarna (1956; The Migratory Birds), and Arvt g rn (1957; The Heirs) are set in the district of Uppland during Fridegard's childhood. He also wrote a five-volume series of novels—commonly referred to as Soldatsviten (The Soldier Suite)—that take place before and after the year 1800, when Sweden was at war more often than not.
   Many of Fridegard's short stories were collected in the volumes Statister (1939; Extras), Kvarnbudet (1944; The Message from the Mill), and Kvinnoträdet (1950; The Woman Tree). He also wrote four volumes of memoirs, Pä oxens horn (1964; On the Horns of the Ox), Lättingen (1965; Lazybones), Det kortaste sträet (1966; The Short End of the Stick), and Tre stigar (1967; Three Paths).

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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