Lagerlöf, Selma

(1858-1940)
   A Swedish novelist, Lagerlof became world renowned and received the Nobel Prize in 1909. She had her literary debut at the time of the transition from the naturalism of the 1880s to the neoromanticism of the 1890s, Scandinavia's version of symbolism in literature. Her first book, the novel Gösta Ber-lings saga (1891; tr. The Story of Gosta Berling, 1898), exemplifies this transition. Set in Lagerlof's home district of Varmland at the end of the 1820s, it tells the story of Ekeby Manor, its mistress Margareta Celsing, and the 12 cavaliers whom she supports in a life of refined idleness. The cavaliers have entered into a pact with the devil, represented by the cantankerous squire Sintram, that they will bring all economic activity at Ekeby to a halt for one year. They succeed, but at great cost to the local community. The story ofthe defrocked priest Goästa Berling is at the center of the novel, as he is both one of the leading cavaliers and one of the book s several characters in need of reformation of character. Ultimately, Lagerloäf s theme in Goästa Berlings saga is the age-old conflict between good and evil, and she offers psychological as well as mythical depictions of how good will triumph in the end. Her ethical concerns are also at the core of a collection of stories entitled Osynliga laänkar (1894; tr. Invisible Links, 1899).
   Lagerloäf makes extensive use of Christian imagery, which can be found, for example, in some of the stories in the volume Drottningar i Kungahaälla jaämte andra beraättelser (1897; tr. The Queens of Kungahaälla and Other Tales, 1917). In her second novel, Antikrists mirakler (1897; tr. The Miracles of Antichrist, 1899), she compares Christianity and socialism, while Kristuslegender (1904; tr. Christ Legends, 1908) recounts many tales ofsaints.
   Extreme or abnormal states of mind are depicted in many of Lagerlof's books. The novel En herrgardssägen (1899; tr. From a Swedish Homestead, 1901), for example, presents a mentally ill man who is rescued and brought back to health through the efforts of the woman who loves him. The great epic novel Jerusalem I-II (1901-1902; tr. Jerusalem 1 and 2, 1915-1918) tells about a group of Swedish farmers who believe that God has called them to leave their ancestral homes and emigrate to Palestine. The protagonist in Herr Arnespenningar (1903; tr. Herr Arne'sHoard, 1923) is Elsalill, who has fallen in love with the leader of a band of men who murdered the priest Arne and his entire household, including Elsalill s foster sister. The ghost of the foster sister makes certain that Elsalill finally recognizes the murderer as such, after which Elsalill takes her life in order to prevent the murderers from escaping their fate.
   Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (1906-1907; tr. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, 1907, and Further Adventures of Nils, 1911) has taught geography to generations of Swedish schoolchildren. The young Nils is unkind to animals, and as punishment he is shrunk by a gnome, after which he travels around Sweden on the back of a goose. Like the characters in Gosta Berlings saga, he eventually reforms and is allowed to return to his normal size. The novel teaches moral lessons as well as lessons in geography.
   In the shadow of the impending World War I, Lagerloäf s next books were darker in tone. The novel Koärkarlen (1912; tr. Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness, 1921) offers an all too realistic portrait of a tyrannical husband and father, while Kejsarn av Portugallien (1914; tr. The Emperor ofPortugallia, 1917) features a father who has lost his sanity. In her novel Bannlyst (1918; tr. The Outcast, 1920), Lagerlof speaks in favor of pacifism. In her last major work, a trilogy consisting of the novels Loäwenskoäldska ringen (1925; tr. The General's Ring, 1928), Charlotte Lowenskold (1925, tr. 1928), and Anna Svard (1928; tr. 1931), Lagerlof tells the story of a man who may or may not be capable of redemption. It is thus a more ambivalent tale than the relatively edifying narratives that preceeded it and is perhaps a result of the traumas of World War I.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lagerlöf, Selma — ▪ Swedish author in full  Selma Ottiliana Lovisa Lagerlöf  born Nov. 20, 1858, Mårbacka, Sweden died March 16, 1940, Mårbacka  novelist who in 1909 became the first woman and also the first Swedish writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.… …   Universalium

  • Lagerlöf, Selma (Ottiliana Lovisa) — born Nov. 20, 1858, Mårbacka, Swed. died March 16, 1940, Mårbacka Swedish novelist. She was working as a schoolmistress when she wrote her first novel, Gösta Berlings saga (1891), a chronicle of life in her native Värmland. Later works include… …   Universalium

  • Lagerlöf, Selma (Ottiliana Lovisa) — (20 nov. 1858, Mårbacka, Suecia–16 mar. 1940, Mårbacka). Novelista sueca. Era maestra de escuela cuando escribió su primera novela, La saga de Gösta Berling (1891), crónica de la vida en su Värmland natal. Entre sus obras posteriores figuran… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lagerlöf,Selma Ottiliana Lovisa — La·ger·löf (läʹgər ləv, lœf), Selma Ottiliana Lovisa. 1858 1940. Swedish writer whose novels include Gösta Berlings Saga (1891). In 1909 she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. * * * …   Universalium

  • Selma Ottiliana Lovisa Lagerlöf — Selma Lagerlöf; Gemälde von Carl Larsson 1909  Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf?/i (* 20. November 1858 auf Gut Mårbacka in der heutige …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Selma Lagerlöf — Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf Selma Lagerlöf en 1909 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Selma Lagerlof — Selma Lagerlöf Selma Lagerlöf Portrait de Selma Lagerlöf par Carl Larsson en 1906 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Selma Lagerlöf — Portrait de Selma Lagerlöf par Carl Larsson en 1906 Activités …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lagerlöf — Lagerlöf,   Selma Ottiliana Lovisa, schwedische Schriftstellerin, * Gut Mårbacka (Verwaltungsbezirk Värmland) 20. 11. 1858, ✝ ebenda 16. 3. 1940; Tochter eines Gutsbesitzers, war 1892 95 Lehrerin in Landskrona, reiste 1895/96 nach Italien,… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Lagerlöf — Lagerlöf, Selma, schwed. Schriftstellerin, geb. 20. Nov. 1858 auf dem alten, abgelegenen Gut Mårbacka in Wärmland, wo sie ihre Jugend verbrachte, bis sie mit 22 Jahren in Stockholm in ein Lehrerinnenseminar eintrat. 1885–95 war sie als Lehrerin… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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