Wishing as she did to trace the process of her own adolescent discoveries, Lagerlöf undoubtedly chose the diary form for her autobiographical account so that she could speak with the voice of the young, innocent girl she had been at fourteen. That voice dictated the style, with its simple language, its sense of immediacy, its references to unexamined folk wisdom and parental warnings, and its bursts of emotion, expressed in half sentences and in exclamation marks. Although young Selma is inexperienced, she is intelligent, and therefore in the tradition of the naive observer, she relays impressions which the more experienced adult reader, like the writer herself, often finds more significant than the young girl had realized at the time.
When Selma boarded the train for Stockholm, she brought with her from Mrbacka much useful invisible baggage. As a child, she had always felt loved and secure. Furthermore, she had been reared in a devout atmosphere, with a clear sense of the reality of God and with a well-developed awareness of the difference between good and evil. Unlike most fourteen-year-olds, she already knew that she was to become a writer, and therefore she was intensely conscious of the operations of her own imagination, a faculty which enriched her everyday life but sometimes brought with it some confusion about the line between reality and illusion. Like all adolescents, Selma had begun to be uncertain about her real identity and even more...
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