As the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to her in 1909, and as one of Sweden’s most respected and beloved writers, Selma Lagerlöf is a creative artist whose development merits intensive study. Although she did not write The Diary of Selma Lagerlöf when she was fourteen, in it Lagerlöf so completely recaptured the point of view of her past self that the book can well be studied as if it had actually been put on paper in 1873, when young Selma was already preoccupied with the relationship between the imagination and the real world, with the problem of evil, and with the necessity for making moral choices in life and reflecting them in art.
The Diary of Selma Lagerlöf has much in common with Selma Lagerlöf’s fiction. In her only children’s book, the delightful Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (1906-1907; The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, 1907, and The Further Adventures of Nils, 1911), Lagerlöf entered the world of the innocents, children and animals, in order to tell a story whose simplicity conceals a profound theme. In this story, as in her “diary” and her adult novels, a major character, in this case the disobedient boy Nils Holgersson, must learn through experience to be both wise and good.
In the novels for adults which make up the bulk of her work are found the same themes and conflicts which have been pointed out in The Diary of Selma...
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