The Info List - Pär Lagerkvist

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Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (23 May 1891 – 11 July 1974) was a Swedish author who received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
in 1951. Lagerkvist wrote poems, plays, novels, stories, and essays of considerable expressive power and influence[citation needed] from his early 20s to his late 70s. One of his central themes was the fundamental question of good and evil, which he examined through such figures as Barabbas, the man who was freed instead of Jesus, and Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew. As a moralist, he used religious motifs and figures from the Christian tradition without following the doctrines of the church.


1 Biography and works 2 Works 3 English translations 4 References 5 External links

Biography and works[edit] Lagerkvist was born in Växjö
(Småland). He received a traditional religious education – he would later say, with little exaggeration, that he "had had the good fortune to grow up in a home where the only books known were the Bible and the Book of Hymns". In his teens he broke away from Christian beliefs, but, unlike many other writers and thinkers in his generation, he did not become vehemently critical of religious beliefs as such. Though he was politically a socialist for most of his life, he never indulged in the idea that "religion is the opium of the people". Much of his writing is informed by a lifelong interest in man and his symbols and gods and in the position of Man (both as individual and mankind) in a world where the Divine is no longer present, no longer speaking.[citation needed] In his early years Lagerkvist supported modernist and aesthetically radical views, as shown by his manifesto Ordkonst och bildkonst (Word Art and Picture Art, 1913) and the play Den Svåra Stunden ("The Difficult Hour").[1] One of the author's earliest works is Ångest (Anguish, 1916), 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." ("Anguish", 1916.) "Love is nothing. Anguish is everything / the anguish of living." ("Love is nothing", 1916.) This pessimism, however, slowly faded, as testified by his subsequent works, Det eviga leendet (The Eternal Smile, 1920), the autobiographical novel Gäst hos verkligheten (Guest of Reality, 1925) and the prose monologue Det besegrade livet (The defeated Life, 1927), in which the faith in man is predominant. From The Eternal Smile on, his style largely abandoned the expressionist pathos and brusque effects of his early works and there was a strong striving for simplicity, classical precision and clean telling, sometimes appearing close to naivism. The content, however, was never truly naive. A Swedish critic remarked that "Lagerkvist and John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
are two masters at expressing profound things with a highly restricted choice of words".[citation needed] Ten years after Ångest, Lagerkvist married for the second time, a union which was to provide a pillar of safety in his life until the death of his wife forty years later. Hjärtats sånger (Songs of the Heart) (1926) appeared at this time, bearing witness to his pride and love for his consort.. This collection is much less desperate in its tone than Ångest, and established him as one of the foremost Swedish poets of his generation.[citation needed] His prose novella Bödeln ("The Hangman", 1933), later adapted for the stage (The Hangman, 1933; play, 1934), shows his growing concern with the totalitarianism and brutality that began to sweep across Europe
in the years prior to World War II. Nazism
was one of the main targets of the work and Der Stürmer
Der Stürmer
responded with a very dismissive review. Criticism against Fascism
is also present in the play Mannen utan själ (The Man Without a Soul, 1936). Lagerkvist's 1944 novel Dvärgen (The Dwarf), a searching, ironic tale about evil, was the first to bring him positive international attention outside of the Nordic countries. The work was followed in 1949 by the unusual, lyrical play Låt människan leva (Let Man Live). Barabbas
(1950), which was immediately hailed as a literary masterpiece (by fellow Nobel laureate André Gide, among others) is probably Lagerkvist's most famous work. The novel is based on a Biblical
story. Jesus
of Nazareth
was sentenced to die by the Roman authorities immediately before the Jewish Passover, when it was customary for the Romans to release someone convicted of a capital offense. When the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilate
offers to free either Jesus
or Barabbas
(a convicted thief and murderer), a Jerusalem mob demands the release of Barabbas, who later watches Jesus
as he bears the cross to Golgotha, witnesses the crucifixion, and then spends the rest of his life trying to understand why he was chosen to live rather than Jesus. A movie based upon the novel was filmed in 1961, with Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
playing the title role. Lagerkvist died in Stockholm
in 1974 at the age of 83. Works[edit] Prose

Människor (1912) Ordkonst och bildkonst (1913) Två sagor om livet (1913) Motiv (1914) Järn och människor (1915) Ångest (1916) Kaos (1919) Det eviga leendet, three stories ("The Eternal Smile", 1920) Den lyckliges väg (1921) Onda Sagor (1924) Gäst hos verkligheten ("Guest of Reality", 1925) Hjärtats sånger (1926) Det besegrade livet (1927) Kämpande ande (1930) Vid lägereld (1932) Den knutna näven ("The Clenched Fist", 1934) I den tiden ("In the Terms", 1935) Genius (1937) Den befriade människan (1939) Sång och strid (1940) Hemmet och stjärnan (1942) Dvärgen ("The Dwarf", 1944) Barabbas
(1950, filmed in 1953, 1962) Aftonland ("Evening Land", 1953) Sibyllan ("The Sibyl", 1956) Ahasverus död ("The Death of Ahasuerus", 1960) Pilgrim på havet ("Pilgrim at Sea", 1962) Det heliga landet ("The Holy Land", 1964) Mariamne ("Herod and Mariamne", 1967) Antecknat (diaries and notes, 1977) Den svåra resan (written in 1926, published in 1985)


Sista människan, play ("The Last Man", 1917) Den svåra stunden, three one-act plays ("The Difficult Hour ", 1918) Teater (1918) Himlens hemlighet, play ("The Secret of Heaven", 1919) Den osynlige, play ("The Invisible One", 1923) Han som fick leva om sitt liv, play ("The Man Who Lived his Life Over", 1928) Konungen, play ("The King", 1932) Bödeln, play ("The Hangman", 1933) Mannen utan själ, play ("The Man Without a Soul", 1936) Seger i mörkret, play ("Victory in the Dark", 1939) Midsommardröm i fattighuset, play ("Midsummer's Dream in the Workhouse", 1941) De vises sten, play ("The Philosopher's Stone", 1947) Låt människan leva, play ("Let Man Live", 1950)

English translations[edit]

"Literary Art and Pictorial Art" [Ordkonst och bildkonst], Rainbow Press, 1991, ISBN 0-9518535-0-3. "The Dwarf" [Dvärgen], Hill and Wang, 1958, ISBN 0-374-52135-2. "Barrabas", Vintage, 1989, ISBN 0-679-72544-X. "The Sibyl" [Sibyllan], Vintage, 1963, ISBN 0-394-70240-9. "The Death of Ahasuerus" [Ahasverus död], Vintage, 1982, ISBN 0-394-70820-2.


^ "Par Lagerkvist Swedish author". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-02. He became involved with socialism and soon began to support artistic and literary radicalism, as demonstrated in his manifesto entitled Ordkonst och bildkonst (1913; “Literary and Pictorial Art”). In Teater (1918; “Theatre”), the three one-act plays Den Svåre Stunden (“The Difficult Hour”) illustrate a similar modernist viewpoint. 

Fulvio Ferrari, introduction to Italian edition of Gäst hos verkligheten and Det eviga leendet, Oscar Narrativa #1242, Mondadori, Milan, June 1992 Everett M. Ellestad, "Lagerkvist and Cubism: A Study of Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Studies 45 (1/1973), S. 38–53.

External links[edit]

Works by or about Pär Lagerkvist
Pär Lagerkvist
at Internet Archive

Cultural offices

Preceded by Verner von Heidenstam Swedish Academy, Seat No.8 1940–1974 Succeeded by Östen Sjöstrand

v t e

Laureates of the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
in Literature


1901 Sully Prudhomme 1902 Theodor Mommsen 1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson 1904 Frédéric Mistral
Frédéric Mistral
/ José Echegaray 1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz 1906 Giosuè Carducci 1907 Rudyard Kipling 1908 Rudolf Eucken 1909 Selma Lagerlöf 1910 Paul Heyse 1911 Maurice Maeterlinck 1912 Gerhart Hauptmann 1913 Rabindranath Tagore 1914 1915 Romain Rolland 1916 Verner von Heidenstam 1917 Karl Gjellerup / Henrik Pontoppidan 1918 1919 Carl Spitteler 1920 Knut Hamsun 1921 Anatole France 1922 Jacinto Benavente 1923 W. B. Yeats 1924 Władysław Reymont 1925 George Bernard Shaw


1926 Grazia Deledda 1927 Henri Bergson 1928 Sigrid Undset 1929 Thomas Mann 1930 Sinclair Lewis 1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt 1932 John Galsworthy 1933 Ivan Bunin 1934 Luigi Pirandello 1935 1936 Eugene O'Neill 1937 Roger Martin du Gard 1938 Pearl S. Buck 1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 Johannes V. Jensen 1945 Gabriela Mistral 1946 Hermann Hesse 1947 André Gide 1948 T. S. Eliot 1949 William Faulkner 1950 Bertrand Russell


1951 Pär Lagerkvist 1952 François Mauriac 1953 Winston Churchill 1954 Ernest Hemingway 1955 Halldór Laxness 1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez 1957 Albert Camus 1958 Boris Pasternak 1959 Salvatore Quasimodo 1960 Saint-John Perse 1961 Ivo Andrić 1962 John Steinbeck 1963 Giorgos Seferis 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
(declined award) 1965 Mikhail Sholokhov 1966 Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
/ Nelly Sachs 1967 Miguel Ángel Asturias 1968 Yasunari Kawabata 1969 Samuel Beckett 1970 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1971 Pablo Neruda 1972 Heinrich Böll 1973 Patrick White 1974 Eyvind Johnson
Eyvind Johnson
/ Harry Martinson 1975 Eugenio Montale


1976 Saul Bellow 1977 Vicente Aleixandre 1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer 1979 Odysseas Elytis 1980 Czesław Miłosz 1981 Elias Canetti 1982 Gabriel García Márquez 1983 William Golding 1984 Jaroslav Seifert 1985 Claude Simon 1986 Wole Soyinka 1987 Joseph Brodsky 1988 Naguib Mahfouz 1989 Camilo José Cela 1990 Octavio Paz 1991 Nadine Gordimer 1992 Derek Walcott 1993 Toni Morrison 1994 Kenzaburō Ōe 1995 Seamus Heaney 1996 Wisława Szymborska 1997 Dario Fo 1998 José Saramago 1999 Günter Grass 2000 Gao Xingjian


2001 V. S. Naipaul 2002 Imre Kertész 2003 J. M. Coetzee 2004 Elfriede Jelinek 2005 Harold Pinter 2006 Orhan Pamuk 2007 Doris Lessing 2008 J. M. G. Le Clézio 2009 Herta Müller 2010 Mario Vargas Llosa 2011 Tomas Tranströmer 2012 Mo Yan 2013 Alice Munro 2014 Patrick Modiano 2015 Svetlana Alexievich 2016 Bob Dylan 2017 Kazuo Ishiguro

v t e

Swedish Nobel laureates


1903: Svante Arrhenius 1926: Theodor Svedberg 1929: Hans von Euler-Chelpin 1948: Arne Tiselius 2015: Tomas Lindahl


1909: Selma Lagerlöf 1916: Verner von Heidenstam 1931: Erik Axel Karlfeldt
Erik Axel Karlfeldt
(posthumously) 1951: Pär Lagerkvist 1966: Nelly Sachs 1974: Eyvind Johnson
Eyvind Johnson
/ Harry Martinson 2011: Tomas Tranströmer


1908: Klas Pontus Arnoldson 1921: Hjalmar Branting 1930: Nathan Söderblom 1961: Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld
(posthumously) 1982: Alva Myrdal


1912: Gustaf Dalén 1924: Manne Siegbahn 1970: Hannes Alfvén 1981: Kai Siegbahn

Physiology or Medicine

1911: Allvar Gullstrand 1955: Hugo Theorell 1967: Ragnar Granit 1970: Ulf von Euler 1981: Torsten Wiesel 1982: Sune Bergström
Sune Bergström
/ Bengt I. Samuelsson 2000: Arvid Carlsson

Economic Sciences

1974: Gunnar Myrdal 1977: Bertil Ohlin

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 64007846 LCCN: n78085429 ISNI: 0000 0001 2136 3378 GND: 118725998 SELIBR: 69635 SUDOC: 026960613 BNF: cb119106659 (data) BIBSYS: 90149350 MusicBrainz: 656ed727-57cf-4e70-9b7b-100da4d9aff9 NDL: 00446657 NKC: jn19990004816 ICCU: ITICCUCFIV59494 BNE: XX840755 CiNii: DA02052