Pär Lagerkvist Drama Analysis
Ångest is a subject that does not lend itself to comedy readily. Even the comedian Woody Allen had to move from farce to the seriocomic and serious in order to accommodate his attention to his Manhattanesque angst. Pär Lagerkvist’s brooding seriousness—the Swedish word for it is grubbel—is rarely relieved in his work by a light touch or a comic lift. None of his plays is a comedy. Those that are not tragedies, or tragic, are, at their most positive level, hauntingly melancholy.
A good approach to his first play, Sista mänskan, is to see its world as the terminus of the world brought into being in “Myten om människorna,” which begins, “Once upon a time there was a world.” In “Myten om människorna,” a man and a woman come to this world for a short visit. They make a home. The husband hunts and tills the soil. The wife bears three sons. One evening she tells her children about the other worlds she knows. When the youngest son dies, it is understood that he has gone to another world. The man and his wife grow old. After they die, their surviving sons feel great relief. Unbothered by further contemplation of other worlds, the two young men joyously go out to take possession of the earth, on which human life is burgeoning. From this paradisiacal setting, Lagerkvist has excluded a creator and for the visit of Lucifer has substituted the event of death. The Adam and Eve of this...
(The entire section is 3410 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Pär Lagerkvist Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!