A Literary Look at Astrid Lindgren
Ron Pavellas gives us a closer look at Sweden’s most iconic literary figure, Astrid Lindgren.
Other than the benefits of parental love, I cannot think of anything more valuable to a child than to fall in love with a book, or a character in the book, or the book’s author. Love of the author will take the child to more books by the author; love of a character will take the child to more books in a series, where there is one.
Astrid Lindgren and her characters and books earned such love and she has, therefore, affected the lives of millions of people who are now grown up and, still, many who are growing up.
Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren (1907 –2002) was a Swedish author and screenwriter who is the world’s 25th most translated author and has sold roughly 145 million copies worldwide. She is best known for the three book series titled: Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson-on-the-Roof and The Six Bullerby Children.
Her other popular books include Emil of Lönneberga, The Bill Bergson series, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, Seacrow Island, Mio, my Mio; or, Mio, my Son, and The Brothers Lionheart.
What brings me to write about Astrid Lindgren is that I recently came across a modestly wonderful sculpture of her, by Majalisa Alexanderson, in a small Stockholm park,Tegnérlunden, the same park where I found the magnificent sculpture of August Strindberg about whom I wrote awhile back.
Astrid is depicted as a storyteller surrounded by several of her figures, including Peter and Petra, Göran and Mr. Liljonkvast, Ylva-Li and others. The sculpture stands under a cherry tree – a setting that accentuates the fairy tale mood, especially when the tree is in bloom.
Lindgren’s drive to protect the powerless from the powerful also extended to animals, and she became a high-profile advocate of the prevention of cruelty to animals. Lindgren’s campaign, started as a reaction against industrial-scale farming, stirred up public opinion and led to the government announcing the so-called Lex Lindgren animal welfare law as an 80th birthday present for the author.
Lindgren earned many honors and awards in her long life, including grants to artists in her name:
In 1967, Rabén & Sjögren established an annual literary prize, the Astrid Lindgren Prize, in connection with her 60th birthday. The prize, 40,000 Swedish Crowns, is awarded to a Swedish language children’s author, every year on her birthday in November. Following Lindgren’s death, the government of Sweden instituted the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in her memory. The award is the world’s largest monetary award for children’s and youth literature, in the amount of five million Swedish Crowns.
I did not read Astrid Lindgren as a child; my focus was on the fourteen books by L. Frank Baum about the adventures of Dorothy Gale and other memorable characters who visited and lived in the Land of Oz and nearby fairylands.
Now when I have the chance to read (in English) to some current or future grandchildren, I will resist the urge to read Oz stories to them so I can learn, by reading to them, about Pippi Longstocking and other beloved characters in the stories of Astrid Lindgren.
More on the Astrid Lindgren Sculpture
From the Skulptur Stockholm which is run by the Culture Administration in Stockholm:
In 1993 the Eva Bonniers Donationsfond invited three artists to participate in a sketching contest on the theme “From Astrid Lindgren’s World”. The Board of the Foundation decided that Majalisa Alexanderson’s entry would be executed, and in 1996 the finished sculpture was unveiled in Astrid Lindgren’s presence.
Majalisa has chosen to depict Astrid as a storyteller surrounded by several of her figures, including Peter and Petra, Göran and Mr. Liljonkvast, Ylva-Li and others. The sculpture stands under a cherry tree – a setting that accentuates the fairy tale mood, especially when the tree is in bloom.
Area: Vasastaden, Placement: Tegnérlunden (1996), Artist: Majalisa Alexanderson, Material: bronze
A version of this article was originally published here.