Den tredje delen av Stieg Larssons millenniumtrilogi – Luftslottet som sprängdes – har av sin amerikanska förläggare fått titeln The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Den brittiska utgåvan har samma namn men märkligt nog har man där satt getingarna i pluralis. Om det ligger någon sofistikerad skillnad i transatlantiskt språkbruk mellan dessa båda titlar är svårt att veta.
Hur som helst så har ju hela serien gjort succé i den engelskspråkiga världen. Av de recensioner jag läst är Patrick Andersons i The Washington Post kanske den mest översvallande:
Only now, with the publication of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third novel in the late Stieg Larsson’s immensely popular Millennium trilogy, can we fully appreciate the Swedish writer’s achievement. The trilogy ranks among those novels that expand the horizons of popular fiction.
All this — the political honesty, the rage at sexism, the suspense, the overpowering narrative, the focus on modern sexual mores, the sexual tension between Mikael and Lisbeth — has made the Millennium trilogy (named for the magazine Mikael writes for) not only a runaway commercial success but perhaps the best, most broadly focused examination of modern politics in popular fiction. Drawing on a quarter-century as a journalist, Larsson tells Lisbeth’s story against an ambitious panorama that encompasses the worlds of journalism, corporations, medicine, organized crime, government, police and the courts, and he also makes unlikely but informed digressions into such areas as boxing and the manufacture of toilets. To have written these three novels may have killed Larsson, but he left a monument behind, a modern masterpiece.
I New York Times hade dessförinnan Charles McGrath ägnat fenomenet Stieg Larsson en lång magasinsartikel med titel The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson.
The third volume in Stieg Larsson’s immensely successful Millennium trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” finally goes on sale here this month. Except for ”Harry Potter” Americans haven’t been so eager for a book since the early 1840s, when they thronged the docks in New York, hailing incoming ships for news of Little Nell in Charles Dickens’s “Old Curiosity Shop.” That was before Amazon. This time, particularly impatient readers simply paid a premium and ordered the new book from England, where it came out months ago (though with the apostrophe in a different place, making the “Hornet” plural).
Knopf, Larsson’s American publisher, has already printed 750,000 copies of “Hornet’s Nest.” It will almost certainly soar to the top of the best-seller lists, where the previous volumes, best sellers in hardback, recently occupied the top two paperback slots. What’s unusual is that unlike some other recent publishing juggernauts… the Millennium novels are not American in origin and were huge best sellers in Europe before most Americans got wind of them. Sonny Mehta, the publisher and editor in chief of Knopf, who bought the books for what he says now seems like a “very modest sum,” even worried that they might not catch on here. “I had nightmares that we would be the only country where the books didn’t work,” he says.
Jag har skrivit om det förr, men det är väl sällan som Sverige fått en så positiv uppmärksamhet på litteratursidor som under de allra senaste åren. Förklaringarna till detta är många och den kände Sverigekännaren Andrew Brown diskuterar ämnet i en artikel i senaste numret av Foreign Policy under rubriken We’re all Swedes now:
With the U.S. release this week of the final instalment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, the English-speaking world is again given a chance to indulge in a view of Scandinavia that is entirely dystopian. In Larsson’s Sweden, the police are useless where they are not corrupt; the countryside is full of violent drug dealers; the rich are utterly unprincipled. It sounds like Mexico in the snow. This is no longer a clean, well-lighted place for Volvo owners. What went wrong?
Crime fiction always exaggerates, and Swedish left-wing crime fiction, the tradition to which Larsson belongs, is a genre quite as stylised as Agatha Christie’s. There will always be villainous millionaires and noble women. It is not enough to be a sadistic serial killer: You have to vote conservative as well. But what has changed since the genre was invented in the 1960s by the husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö is the overwhelming loss of confidence in the future, and in the state. This does reflect reality.
Svensk flicka med Volvo – en klassisk bild
Andrew Brown ser en del av förklaringen till Sveriges förändrade självbild i medlemskapet i EU och 90-talets ekonomiska kriser. En pluralism i mediautbud och välfärdstjänster har också bidragit till en minskad känsla av nationell enhet. Ändå finns det enligt Brown en del som skiljer svenskar från andra västliga nationer:
But there remains something distinctively Scandinavian about the country that cuts it off from the Anglo-Saxon mainstream. Swedes of any class have a sense of belonging, and of obligation to their country that is entirely different from the British or American attitudes toward the poor. Perhaps I know the wrong millionaires, but I have never met any rich Swedes who did not feel some sense of obligation to the poor, even when they were living in tax exile. It is not just a matter of charity, but of fellow feeling. That is not my experience in Britain or in the U.S., where riches are felt to turn you into a different, and possibly better, sort of person altogether, not least by their possessors.
Perhaps this moralism helps explain why Swedes were always much less secular than they appeared to be, even to themselves. Anything but the most notional Christianity had more or less died out among the middle classes by the 1980s, and the Swedish national church was disestablished at the millennium. Instead of imbibing myths about first-century Palestine, the people took in sermons about social progress and its culmination in 20th-century Sweden. To some extent, those new myths were shared with the whole Western world. But it is in Sweden that their loss is most keenly felt, and the great efflorescence of dystopian crime fiction in the country is perhaps an expression of this loss.
Trots de dystopiska deckarna är Sverige ändå enligt Andrew Brown ”pretty tolerable to live in”. Det håller nog de flesta av oss med om.