Pär Fabian Lagerkvist

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Lagerkvist, Pär Fabian


Born May 23, 1891, in Växjö. Swedish writer; member of the Swedish Academy (1940).

Lagerkvist graduated from the University of Uppsala in 1912. In his youth he participated in the socialist movement. In 1912 he published the collection of novellas People. Lagerkvist’s early poetry and prose works revealed his interest in formalistic innovations. The collection of novellas Iron and Men (1915) and such expressionistic poems as “Anguish” (1916) and “Chaos” (1919) caught the pessimism engendered by World War I (1914–18).

The play The Eternal Smile (1920) and such expressionistic dramas as The Last Man (1917) and The Invisible One (1923) are characterized by the representation of reality as absurd and chaotic and an interest in the problem of evil as an abstract metaphysical principle, an essential element in Lagerkvist’s work. The realistic principle intensified in the satirical collection Evil Tales (1924) and in the autobiographical work Guest of Reality (1925).

Lagerkvist’s books of the 1930’s enunciated the necessity to fight fascism, which he considered the extreme manifestation of eternal evil—for example, the allegorical novella The Hangman (1933), the collection of essays The Clenched Fist (1934), the collection of satirical short stories At That Time (1935), the play The Man Without a Soul (1936), the poetry collection The Song and the Battle (1940), and Lagerkvist’s masterpiece, The Dwarf (1944).

In his postwar books, Lagerkvist related the problem of evil to man’s complicated moral yearning—for example, the collected poems The Evening Land (1953) and the plays and philosophical novels and novellas on biblical subjects. Barabbas (1950), The Sibyl (1956), and The Death of Ahasuerus (1960). He received the Nobel Prize in 1951.


Prosa, [vols.] 1–6. Stockholm, 1951–60.
Dramatik, [vols.] 1–3. Stockholm, 1956.
Dikter. Stockholm, 1965.
In Russian translation. [Novelly.] In Shvedskaia novella XIX-XX vv. Moscow, 1964.
V miregost’: Povesti i rasskazy. Introduction by S. Belokrinitskaia. Moscow, 1972.


Oberholzer, O. Pär Lagerkvist: Studien zu seiner Prosa und seinen Dramen. Heidelberg, 1958.
Henmark, K. Frä mlingen Lagerkvist. Stockholm, 1966.
Synpunkter på Pär Lagerkvist. Stockholm [1966].
Malmström, G. Menneskehjertets verden: Hovedmotiv i Pär Lagerkvists diktning. Oslo, 1970.
Scandinavica. New York-London, May 1971.


References in periodicals archive ?
Albiach, Oyvind Berg, Roger Giroux, Par Lagerkvist, Tarjei Vesaas, and
The Swedish writer Par Lagerkvist (1891-1974), who received the Nobel prize for literature in 1951, once described himself as "a believer without belief, a religious atheist" (Warme, 1990).
A blackened sea: religion and crisis in the work of Par Lagerkvist.
Du mal d'etre au non-etre: le Barabbas de Par Lagerkvist.
Generally absent from this list is Swedish Nobel laureate Par Lagerkvist.
As novelist Par Lagerkvist explores in his Pulitzer-prizewinning book, Barabbas (Vintage International), even if Barabbas didn't care about who died for him, others would, and that strange bargain would color the rest of his life.
An example of her citational virtuosity, from the section on ennui, will serve as an example of how widely and quickly she can range: Thomas Mann, Kierkegaard, Par Lagerkvist, the great Finland-Swedish columnist Guss Mattsson, Edward Hoagland, Freud (to Lou Andreas-Salome), Arvid Jarnefelt, Charles Darwin, Pascal (a trio paraphrased, not directly quoted), Gustaf Froding, Mattsson and Lagerkvist again, Virginia Woolf, the Swedish poet and essayist Carl-Erik af Geijerstam, the psychiatrists Johan Cullberg and Anne Wilson Schaef, Mazzarella's compatriot Solveig von Schoultz, the literary scholar Martha C.