Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist displayed his predisposition to independence in his very first appearance in print, a letter to the local newspaper in October, 1905, written when he was fourteen:Every schoolboy is surely aware of the hostility that exists, not only in Växiö but in other cities as well, between elementary-and secondary-school pupils. This hostility may appear to be insignificant, but it certainly is not; it is nothing other than the beginning of a pernicious class hatred in Sweden. For how easily does a boy from elementary school, who during his entire schooling grows accustomed to harboring the same hostility toward a secondary-school pupil that the socialists harbor toward the upper social classes, how easily does such a boy fall victim to pernicious socialism. Conversely, a secondary-school pupil can easily begin to hate not only the elementary-school students but also, when he is older and more mature, all members of the working class. Therefore, comrades, let’s begin to lay aside this bad habit and rather try, in harmony, to further the best interests of our country. [signed] A schoolboy.
In five to seven years’ time, Lagerkvist would become sufficiently amenable to socialism to lend his creative talents to the Social Democratic journals Fram, Stormklockan, and Norskensflamman.
Thirteen months after his debut in the local newspaper, he published a prose sketch entitled...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist was born May 23, 1891, in Växjö, Sweden, to Anders Johan and Johanna (Blad) Lagerkvist, an orthodox Lutheran couple, who stressed religious training. In 1910, he matriculated at the University of Uppsala, where he briefly studied the humanities. Lagerkvist began his literary career with a novella, Människor. In 1913 he traveled to Paris, where he was influenced by the visual arts. He applied the boldness of Fauvism, the simplicity of Primitivism, and the contrasting perspectives of cubism to literature in his first critical essay, Ordkonst och bildkonst (1913; Literary Art and Pictorial Art, 1982).
In 1915 Lagerkvist moved to Denmark, where he remained throughout World War I, establishing his literary reputation with a volume of poetry, Ångest, which is considered the first expressionistic work in Swedish. In Copenhagen, he turned his literary attention to the theater and in 1918 married Karen Dagmar Johanne Sørensen. Returning to Stockholm, he became a drama critic for Svenska Dagbladet, writing his final review in June, 1919. Thereafter he sustained himself writing fiction.
Lagerkvist traveled a great deal during the 1920’s, especially to France and Italy, his pessimism dissipating as he observed Europe recovering from the war. His autobiographical novella Guest of Reality was published in 1925, the same year that he divorced his wife and married a Swedish...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist was born on May 23, 1891, in Växjö, Sweden, a small town in the southern region of Småland. His father, Anders Johan Lagerkvist, was the railway agent at the station in Växjö, and the family lived in a small apartment above the station’s restaurant. His mother, Johanna Blad, was, like her husband, from a simple peasant family. Lagerkvist was the youngest of seven children, and, like the others, he attended the local primary and secondary schools, spending summer vacations with his maternal grandparents in the country. Though normally reticent about biographical disclosure, Lagerkvist described his early environment as a mixture of the fundamentalist conservatism of his parents with the radical nonconforming Calvinism of his maternal grandparents. Between these two competing religious attitudes, the young Lagerkvist was torn, and his inability to reconcile their contradictions eventually resulted in his abandonment of both.
During his secondary education at the Växjö Gymnasium, Lagerkvist’s rebellious attitude toward his family’s conservative influence began to surface. Together with four of his friends, he formed a study group named the Red Circle. Wearing the broad-brimmed hat and flowing bow tie that indicated their affiliation with the growing Socialist movement, they met each Sunday morning at eleven o’clock—the precise hour that services were held at the nearby cathedral. With the Red Circle,...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (LAH-gur-kvihst) was born on May 23, 1891, in Växjö, a small town in a province of Sweden that appears to have been named Småland (slight land) because of its unpromising soil and relatively low agricultural productivity. The stony soil of Småland had been improved through the labor of its inhabitants by the time of Lagerkvist’s youth, but steady emigration from the area is indicative of its pronounced bleakness. This atmosphere was to provide a tone for Lagerkvist’s prose, poetry, and drama. There was bleakness, too, in the formidable, humorless Protestantism that constituted Lagerkvist’s religious environment.
Pär was the youngest of seven children. Anders Lagerkvist, his father, was a railroad station employee, and he lived with his family above the railway station’s restaurant in Växjö. The bleakness and transience of human existence and vain expectations of divine favor later became Lagerkvist’s literary themes. Life with a sternly religious family in a little railway station in a poor landscape may have contributed to Lagerkvist’s choosing these themes.
His first publication, at the age of fourteen, was a letter to a newspaper: He protested the differentiation, by social class, of schoolchildren. Indignation of this kind colored much of his early poetry and essays. Evidence of his early...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Pär Lagerkvist’s contribution to literature is a unique combination of structure and theme. The structure entails a cubistic elimination of nonessentials as a means of giving lyrical voice to a multiplicity of spatial, temporal, and spiritual perspectives. The theme is an examination of the existentialist authenticity by which individuals expect no more from life than the fullness of living.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (LAH-gur-kvihst), the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951, was instrumental in bringing Sweden into the mainstream of European movements in twentieth century literature and art. He gained international recognition as a somber, original stylist in fiction and drama. He was born in Växjö, a small town in the Swedish province of Smaland, on May 23, 1891, the seventh child of Johanna Blad and Anders Johan Lagerkvist. His father, who worked as a railroad signalman, figures, along with the author’s family life in youth, in at least three of Lagerkvist’s early stories.
Before he was nineteen, Lagerkvist had decided to become a writer. He published his first novel, Människor, when he was twenty-one. It was not a success, but it included in expressionist style many of the themes that he would later perfect in the deceptively simple and essentially cubist style distilled from his most successful early works, such as the poem Ångest (anguish) of 1916 and the play The Difficult Hour, as well as the story “The Eternal Smile.” The themes are those of the reality of evil in human life, the profound simplicity of human love, the darkness and light of the human spirit, the anguished human longing for the unattainable, a never-satisfied longing that is itself the subjective fulfillment of an...
(The entire section is 1065 words.)