Monday, April 6, 2015

Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren and Pippi (Inger Nilsson)
Maybe above photo can give you a hint about who Astrid Lindgren is. She is the Swedish author who wrote Pippi Longstocking in the 1940s, the most famous character she invented. I just finished reading a biography about Astrid Lindgren written by a Danish author, Jens Andersen, and her life was a surprising read as I must admit I known her names from children's books but I knew nothing about her life.

Her first son was born out of wedlock here in Copenhagen, as a Danish hospital offered more anonymity to the mums and he stayed with a foster family for some years until she could bring him home. During WWII she was assigned to the Swedish postal's censurship taskforce - a big surprise as I never thought of Sweden to filter messages going in and out of Sweden as they stayed neutral during the war, but guess that was one of the costs being neutral. A lot of lines and events in her many children's book are inspired actual stories from her own family - she is really listening to children and understands them: children should learn the truth but it is of great matter how you present the truth to the children and also try to explain to them why adults do so many silly things (like making easy things into complicated ones). When she spoke her mind about political issues she was almost treated like a child as: what does a writer of children's literature know about.... But the Swedes were listening to her. An advocate for animal welfare.... and the long list continues.

I grew up with Astrid Lindgren - her books are a big part of my childhood entertainment (and memories) as the written word or TV series. Danish and Swedish are similar and still different words and pronunciation - the area where we lived we had 3 tv stations: 1 Danish and 2 Swedish - the Swedish TV stations aired Pippi Longstocking and Emil of Lönneberga more frequently than the Danish so easily picked up the Swedish - only to be very upset when the Danish TV station finally aired it but in an awful dubbed version: you could still hear the spoken Swedish when the Danish speaker was telling the story "Shut up!". My parents laughed at this loud outburst from me. During this Easter I saw that one of the Danish TV stations (we have no longer just 1 TV station but a lot) aired the Pippi show, only to be taken back to the childhood screaming "Shut up!" - they are still airing the same old awful dubbed version.

Then came the movie adaptation of the 1981 book "Ronia the Rubber's Daughter" - again bad dubbing when shown on Danish TV - loved it and there a line that just stick in my head "Voffor gör di på detta viset?". Every time I meet an old friend from school we always say that Swedish line, laugh and remember old times.

Our teacher read from the Brothers Lionheart and we all begged for an encore, when she had read the last page - it was really hard to get it at the school library as everybody just loved it. I my class there was one of the boys - the quiet type, not an outsider as he was really good at football (soccer), running etc. so the other boys did include him in their groups - twice he suggested out teacher a book for the whole class to read and one of them was "Mio, my Mio". I remember crying my eyes out after having read the final page of the book only to start re-reading it the following day..... Astrid Lindgren just had this capturing writing style.

Wikipedia notes the following: 
As of May 2013, she is the world's 18th most translated author and the third most translated children's books author after H.C. Andersen and the Grimm Brothers. Lindgren has sold roughly 144 million books worldwide.

By the way, I Love Pippi's full name: Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump - always brings a smile on my face when people tries to remember her full name but actually never get it right :)

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