More About Torgny Lindgren

A gentle reader requested to know a bit more about Torgny Lindgren.  And so ever one to oblige those seeking knowledge about my favorite writers, you all shall be punished for his curiosity.

I have only five books, I don't know how many are available in translation: The Way of a Serpent, LightSweetnessBathsheba, and Merab's Beauty.  The first three that remain most vividly in my mind--the first a story about a wicked landlord who collects the rent from a family in rural Sweden and when the money runs out begins to exploit the women of the household.  The title is taken from proverbs 30:19

the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.  (KJV)

And though my recollection is at something of a distance now, at least two, and possibly all three of these is developed in the course of a very short novel.  Perhaps the best description of the book is gritty and realistic.  It is a novel of sin, redemption, self-sacrifice, atonement against a harsh background, made harsher by the people who should make it easier and brighter.

If The Way of a Serpent is a bit grim, Sweetness, is both grimmer and more grotesque.  In Sweetness a writer/lecturer specializing in the lives of the Saints is invited to speak with a group in northern Sweden.  He goes and encounters two brothers Hadar and Olaf and begins to uncover a story of resentment, betrayal, and darkness.  Each brother has lived as long as they have only because they are too cussedly stubborn to die first.  The story was very, very dark, sometimes grotesque, but shot through with a dark humor as the writer/lecturer serves as intermediary between the brothers and uncovers their history in all of its darkness.  (And you don't really want to know what the sweetness in the title refers to--believe me.  (How's that for a ploy to encourage readership?))

Light--think Rabbit Plague in Rural pre 20th century (though what century isn't quite clear) Sweden.

All three of these stick in my memory and encourage me to promote Mr. Lindgren at every opportunity.

Hope this whirlwind guide was of some help.  I'm certain that there are pages out there that would have better information and a more thorough and scholarly view of the work.  All I can say is that I have enjoyed, thoroughly, everything I've read.


  1. Steven,

    Thanks for the review of his work. As I mentioned earlier, the local library has only one of his short stories available. I have that on reserve now.

    I will check around the local used bookstores to see what's available. I may have to go on the net to find something.

    Which novel would you recommend as a introduction?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Another Queen of Night

Structures--Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway

Lewis Carroll and James Joyce