Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Stieg Larsson legacy

In 2004 Stieg Larsson gave his Swedish publisher three volumes of what has become known as The Millennium Trilogy -Men who Hate Women published outside Sweden as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Stirred the Hornet's Nest. Later that year, before the final editing of the books, Stieg Larsson had a heart attack and died.

The books have become bestsellers world wide and the stories have been transferred to films. Events that have occurred since the author's death, particularly the dispute between Larsson's family and Eva Gabrielsson, his partner of thirty years, have raised additional interest in the media. As Stieg and Eva did not marry and he did not leave a will Eva is not entitled to any of the money from his estate unless the Larsson family give her part of it. There is also discussion over the draft of a fourth book which is currently held by Gabrielsson.

Many articles and books have been written about Stieg Larsson. Three titles that I found in the library recently are Stieg and Me: Memories of Life with Stieg Larsson by Eva Gabrielsson (2011), The Man Who Left Too Soon: the Biography of Stieg Larsson by Barry Forshaw (2010) and Secrets of the Tattooed Girl: The Unauthorised Guide to theStieg Larsson Trilogy by Dan Burnstein, Arne de Keijzer and John-Henri Holmberg (2011).

Eva Gabrielsson writes not only of her life with Stieg Larsson but also provides details of his early life living with his grandparents until he was nine, the strained relationship with his parents and brother, the causes that drove Stieg including politics (especially his crusade against the rise of the Neo-Nazis in Sweden) and  support of feminist issues, his journalist career including his magazine, Expo, and the writing of the trilogy. She also discusses the events that have occurred since Larsson's death, especially Sweden's laws regarding de facto relationships. She provides an interesting insight into the life and passions of the author.

In The Man Who Left Too Soon, Forshaw looks primarily at the writing of the books. He describes the groups to which Larsson belonged at various times and the use of the experience gained from these groups in the plot of the trilogy. He is particularly interested in Larsson's interest in reading crime fiction and discusses the influence of and reference to other writers and characters in the books. A major section of the book is a plot analysis of each volume. The final chapters look at other Scandinavian crime writers and responses of crime writers to the work of Stieg Larsson.

The Unauthorised Guide to the Stieg Larsson Trilogy is a collection of articles by a variety of writers on Stieg Larsson and the three books. Topics include the author, why the books have made such an impact on the public, the editing and translation of the novels, Larsson's interest in science fiction and crime novels, Nordic Noir, the characters - especially Salander, how the book portrays Sweden, feminism and the mystery of the fourth book. An interesting collection of articles for those who want to further investigate issues raised in the novels.

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