Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Lagerlöf, Selma

(1858-1940) Swedish novelist, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1909. Her career was launched with the episodic novel Gösta Berling's Saga (1891; trans Pauline Bancroft Flach as The Story of Gösta Berling 1898 UK), which set the pattern for SL's work by constructing a contest between pietistic ideas of Christian virtue and wilder codes of conduct based in local tradition and supported by local Folklore. Antikrists Mirakler (1897 Denmark; trans Pauline Bancroft Flach as The Miracles of Antichrist 1898 UK) and Jerusalem (1901-1902 2 vols; trans Jessie Bröchner 1903 UK) are Allegories in which the supernatural never becomes explicit, but many of SL's shorter works are sentimental exercises in Christian Fantasy. Works of this kind can be found in four collections: Osynliga länkar (coll 1894; 12 of the 20 stories from this collection plus 2 others make up Invisible Links coll trans Flach 1899 UK); En herrgårdssägen (coll 1899; trans Bröchner as From A Swedish Homestead 1901 UK; cut vt Drottingnar i Kunghälla; jamte andra berättelser 1900; trans C Field as The Queens of Kunghälla and Other Stories 1930 UK), which includes a novella about St Olaf, "Queens at Kunghälla", and a curious dialogue between "Our Lord and St Peter"; Kristuslegender (coll 1904; trans Howard as Christ Legends and Other Stories coll 1908 US); and En saga om en saga, och andra sagor (coll 1904; trans Howard as The Girl From the Marsh Croft coll 1910 UK), which is mostly mundane but includes the most famous of SL's religious fables, The Legend of the Christmas Rose (1934 chap US).

Although Herr Arnes penningar (1904; trans Arthur G Chater as Herr Arne's Hoard 1923 UK; vt The Treasure 1925 US) features supernatural intrusions in its account of the visitation of divine vengeance upon three Scottish soldiers, SL's first wholehearted fantasy novel was the children's story Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (1906-1907 2 vols; trans Howard as The Wonderful Adventures of Nils 1907 US and The Further Adventures of Nils 1911 US), which was commissioned by the Primary School Board as an aid to the teaching of Swedish geography; it is the story of a farmer's son who is changed into an elf as punishment for his cruelty to animals and joins a flock of migrating geese. The moralistic Visionary Fantasy Körkarlen (1912; trans William Frederick Harvey as Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! 1921) is based on a legend alleging that the last man to die on New Year's Eve must drive Death's cart during the coming year. Liljecronas hem (1911; trans Anna Barwell as Lilicrona's Home 1913 UK) is a slightly supernaturalized story about a pastor's daughter whose wicked Stepmother might be a dispossessed water-sprite. Löwensköldskaa ringen (1925; trans Francesca Martin as The General's Ring 1928 UK; new trans L Schenck as The Lowenskold Ring 1991 US) is a historical fantasy in which all who acquire a Ring stolen from a general's corpse are cursed by his Ghost; the other two novels making up the trilogy reprinted in The Ring of the Lowenskölds (omni 1930 UK) have no supernatural content. SL's collected works were issued as Skrifter (1933 12 vols). [BS]

other works: The Legend of the Sacred Image (1914 chap US); Harvest (coll trans Florence and Naboth Hedin 1935 US); The Changeling (1992 chap US).

Selma Ottiliana Lovisa Lagerlöf


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.