Par Lagerkvist (May 23, 1891 - July 11, 1974)
Born: 23rd May, 1891
Died: 11th July, 1974
Nationality: Swedish author
Region: Vaxjo, Sweden, Stockholm
Notable works: "The Dwarf", "Barabbas"

Par Lagerkvist Facts

Biography

Par Lagerkvist, in full Par Fabian Lagerkvist, (born May 23, 1891, Vaxjo, Sweden--died July 11, 1974, Stockholm), novelist, poet, dramatist, and one of the major Swedish literary figures of the first half of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1951.

Lagerkvist was reared in a traditional religious manner in a small town. The influence of his early years remained strong despite his introduction to modern scientific ideas and his eventual break with the religion of his forefathers. 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 Svare Stunden ("The Difficult Hour") illustrate a similar modernist viewpoint.

The extreme pessimism that pervaded Lagerkvist's works during World War I, such as Angest (1916; "Anguish"), slowly subsided, starting with Det eviga leendet (1920; The Eternal Smile) and his autobiographical novel Gast hos verkligheten (1925; Guest of Reality), until finally he declared his faith in man in the great prose monologue Det besegrade livet (1927; "The Triumph over Life"), which became a positive point of departure for much of his later work.

When the new creeds of violence were being proclaimed in the early 1930s, he quickly recognized their danger. His prose work Bodeln (1933; The Hangman), later dramatized, is a protest against the everlasting brutality in the world. The play Mannen utan sjal (1936; The Man Without a Soul) is also an expression of Lagerkvist's indignation with Fascism. During the 1940s he wrote his most unusual play, sometimes called a "stage oratorio," Lat manniskan leva (1949; Let Man Live), which deals with man's readiness throughout history to judge his fellows and condemn them even to death.

It was not until his novel Dvargen (1944; The Dwarf ) appeared that he had unqualified success with Swedish critics; it became his first best-seller. With Barabbas (1950) he achieved world recognition.

Evening Land=Aftonland (1975) is a literal translation into English by Leif Sjoberg and verse rendering by W.H. Auden of 66 of Lagerkvist's poems. The Marriage Feast (1973) contains English translations of 19 Lagerkvist short stories.

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