Pär Lagerkvist

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Pär Lagerkvist
Lagerkvist.jpg
Born(1891-05-23)23 May 1891
Växjö, Sweden
Died 11 July 1974(1974-07-11) (aged 83)
Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, short story writer
Nationality Swedish
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature
1951

Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (23 May 1891 – 11 July 1974) was a Swedish author who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Nobel Prize in Literature One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Literature is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author's body of work as a whole. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize. The academy announces the name of the laureate in early October. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. On some occasions the award has been postponed to the following year. It was not awarded in 2018, but two names will be awarded in 2019.

Contents

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.

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Play (theatre) form of literature intended for theatrical performance

A play is form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.

Novel Narrative text, normally of a substantial length and in the form of prose describing a fictional and sequential story

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book.

Biography and works

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 ]

Växjö Place in Småland, Sweden

Växjö is a city and the seat of Växjö Municipality, Kronoberg County, Sweden. It had 66,275 inhabitants (2016) out of a municipal population of 90,721 (2017). It is the administrative, cultural, and industrial centre of Kronoberg County and the episcopal see of the Diocese of Växjö. The town is home to Linnaeus University.

Småland Place in Götaland, Sweden

Småland is a historical province (landskap) in southern Sweden. Småland borders Blekinge, Scania, Halland, Västergötland, Östergötland and the island Öland in the Baltic Sea. The name Småland literally means Small Lands. The Latinized form Smolandia has been used in other languages. The highest point in Småland is Tomtabacken, at 377 metres (1,237 ft).

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 are two masters at expressing profound things with a highly restricted choice of words". [ citation needed ]

Violence use of physical force or power with the intent to inflict harm

Violence is "the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy." Less conventional definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization's definition of violence as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation."

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

John the Evangelist author of the Gospel of John; traditionally identified with John the Apostle of Jesus, John of Patmos (author of Revelation), and John the Presbyter

John the Evangelist is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, or John the Presbyter, although this has been disputed by modern scholars.

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 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 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 playing the title role.

Lagerkvist died in Stockholm in 1974 at the age of 83.

Works

Prose

Theatre

English translations

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References

  1. "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.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Verner von Heidenstam
Swedish Academy,
Seat No.8

1940–1974
Succeeded by
Östen Sjöstrand