Gösta Berling’s Saga
by Selma Lagerlöf
Gösta Berling’s Saga by Selma Lagerlöf is another delightful discovery: A magical realist type exploration of the world surrounding a group of Swedish steel mills and their surrounding communities, Gösta Berling’s Saga is an appealing read for any fan of the more established areas of magical realist literature as well as fans of world literature in general. It's the expansion of the novel from the traditional playing fields of England, France, Russia and America that I find most exciting about moving from the 19th to the 20th century. When you compare the English novels of the 1890s to the non-English novels from the same time period it's clear that some kind of a torch has already been passed in terms of experimentation and thematic expansions.
Gösta Berling’s Saga combines the established tradition of the English/French/Russian novel with the mythic echoes of the Scandinavian sage. Another Scandinavian writer who did the same thing later was Haldor Laxness of Iceland- both authors won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Isn't that convenient? When a Scandinavian author wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is awarded by a Swedish panel.
Even though the Saga is set in the 1820s the book carries plenty of witches, trolls, devil worship and evil bears that you can only kill with a silver bullet. In other words, it is an enjoyable, readable romp, and worth taking in.