FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Swedish Travesty of Justice

Eva Gabrielsson met Stieg Larsson?the celebrated author of The Millennium Trilogy?in 1972, at an anti-Vietnam war meeting. They lived together for thirty years, until the time of his death in 2005, shortly before any of the novels were published. They never married, though they had planned to once his novels brought them economic stability. Before that time, when Stieg edited Expo, which exposed right-wing fascism in Sweden, and there were constant threats on his life. The two of them feared that the marriage records would make it easy for right-wing fanatics to identify where they lived and possibly go after her.

Eva was a trained architect, Stieg a journalist with less formal education. Both had been born in the northern part of Sweden, 600 away from Stockholm where in the winter there were only thirty-five minutes of daylight. Metaphorically, that darkness permeates much of Larsson’s fiction. Stieg was raised by his grandfather, a man with strong Old Testament values.

Expo had always been erratically funded, surviving from issue to issue. Gabrielsson provides this chilling context: “In the 1990s, more than a dozen people were murdered in Sweden for political reasons by individuals involved with neo-Nazi groups. S?po?the Security Service, an arm of the Swedish National Police?estimates that during 1998 alone, there were more than two thousand unprotected racist attacks, more than half of which can be directly linked to neo-Nazi militants in White Power groups.”

Some of the fanatics obtained the telephone number of the apartment Stieg and Eva shared. They received anonymous calls, so they installed a security system. Bullets were sent to Stieg in the mail. Anyone who has read The Millennium Trilogy understands the context. Gabrielsson remarks that nothing in the three novels was made up: all the murders, the violence, and the extremism were based on actual events. Interestingly, Stieg saw the arrival of the Internet as an obvious concern. He wanted it regulated like other media. “For racist groups,” he said, “cyberspace is a dream.”

Larsson began writing his novels in 2002. His strong Lutheran upbringing (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth) shaped his writing. Gabrielsson refers to this as “the dilemma between morality and action.” “Individuals change the world and their fellow human beings for better or for worse, but each of us acts according to his or her own sense of morality, which is why everything comes down in the end to personal responsibility. The trilogy allowed Stieg to denounce everyone he loathed for their cowardice, their irresponsibility, their opportunism: couch-potato activists, sunny-day warriors, fair-weather skippers who pick and choose their causes; false friends who used him to advance their own careers; unscrupulous company heads and shareholders who wangle themselves huge bonuses?. Seen in this light, Stieg couldn’t have had any better therapy for what ailed his soul than writing his novels.” No surprise that the trilogy’s phenomenal success in the United States has paralleled the country’s rampant greed and opportunism, our increasing economic disparity.

Some readers of Gabrielsson’s book may accuse her of being self-serving, but that is too narrow a response. She shows how Stieg drew on her architectural and geographical background when he chose the settings and places for his novels. Because the two of them sailed and knew the country’s many islands, these locations often entered into the narratives. Their travels (particularly Grenada) operated the same way. Eva read the drafts that Stieg wrote and edited them. She was intimately involved in the construction of the novels, though she had her own career, which, sadly, in the last couple of years of Stieg’s life, required her to work 150 miles away from him several days a week. Though she doesn’t say this, she had clearly read every scrap of his writing?his journalism and his fiction?for thirty years, was intimately connected to his writing life. They had always had a difficult time economically.

Then Stieg died, suddenly from a heart attack. And then even though they had lived together for most of their lives, because they had no children, the National Swedish Institute of Statistics classified Eva as “single,” not legally heir to Stieg’s estate. Instead, the estate fell to Stieg’s father, Erland, and his brother, Joakim, two people with whom he had almost no connections, other than biological.

The rest is pretty much a horror story. Eva Gabrielsson has spent several years trying to get Stieg’s brother and their father to assign her control of Stieg’s literary estate?not the royalties?but the intellectual property. This is her reason: “I do not want his name to be an industry or a brand. The way things are going, what’s to stop me from one day seeing his name on a bottle of beer, a packet of coffee, or a car? I don’t want his struggles and ideals to be sullied and exploited. I know how he would react in every situation I’m facing today: he would fight.” The two “official” heirs have treated her shamelessly, even proposing at one time that the only way she could manage his literary estate would be by marrying Erland, Stieg’s father. What kind of monsters can these people be?

Gazillions of dollars have fallen into the hands of Stieg Larsson’s brother and father from the massive royalties of his books (and the movies). Erland and Joakim have become clones of the villains of Stieg Larsson’s novels?loathsome people the Swedish novelist will never be able to depict in his work.

“There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me.
By Eva Gabrielsson (with Marie-Fran?oise Colombani)
Trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale.
Seven Stories Press, 224 pp., $23.95

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email: clarson@american.edu.

 

More articles by:

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail