Our Swedish authors, be it August Strindberg or Astrid Lindgren or Jan Guillou, form an important part of our national heritage. Some of the Swedish books we keep on our bookshelves are inherited from past generations, and some we take pride in maintaining for future generations.
Some books, and sometimes only a line or two, are so deeply embedded in our national soul that we need only to think about them to instantly connect with our roots. This is, of course, something very personal but most of us have a relationship to Astrid Lindgren’s “Emil och Ida” and Vilhelm Moberg’s “Karl-Oskar och Kristina” for example.
Carl Jonas Love Almqvist (1793-1866)
Born in Stockholm, Almqvist was a romantic poet, early feminist, realist, composer, social critic and traveler. He was a prolific writer, some of his writings dealt with his radical views on society and politics. In his novel “Drottningens julvesmycke”, the main character Tintomara is neither male nor female. In his novel “Det går an” (It’s acceptable), a woman lives with a man and isn't married to him. These two books caused both the Church and the state to condemn Almqvist and call him a dangerous revolutionary. And it’s because of these writings that he is counted as one of the foremost Swedish social reformers of the 19th century.
Almqvist was accused, most certainly falsely, of having tried to murder a shady business acquaintance with arsenic, and he fled to the United States where he spent most of his last years. He tried to come back to Sweden in 1865 but only got as far as Bremen, Germany where he died a year later. Famous songs by Almqvist include “Om bland tusen stjärnor” and “Den lyssnande Maria”. Coincidentally, his younger brother, Gustaf Fridolf Almqvist was Dag Hammarskjöld’s maternal grandfather.
Om bland tusen stjärnor
Någon enda ser på dig,
Tro på den stjärnans mening,
Tro hennes ögas glans.
Du går icke ensam,
Stjärnan har tusen vänner;
Alla på dig de skåda,
Skåda för hennes skull.
Lycklig är du och säll
Himlen dig har i kväll.