a book blog about reading all of lindgren's books in 2015

Posts tagged ‘rasmus and the vagabond’

Astrid Lindgren – A Critical Study

Astrid_ALACSThere’s no way to accurately sum up this 327-page book about Astrid’s writing.  It was an exhausting read, but an excellent one.  Written by Vivi Edstrom and translated by Eivor Cormack, it was published originally as Astrid Lindgren – Vildtoring och lagereld (1992).  I was curious how the English title compared to the Swedish title, so I did an online translation.  It came up with this: Astrid Lindgren – Vildtoring and Campfire.  Uh huh . . . well, so much for that.

The book gives a short overview of Astrid’s writings focusing on the following groupings:

  • “Adventure and Apple Blossoms”
    • Britt-Mari and Kerstin books which, to my knowledge, have not been translated to English
    • Kati books
    • Bill Bergson books
    • Rasmus and the Vagabond
    • Rasmus, Pontus, and Toker (not translated to English)
  • “From Bullerby Village to Salt Crow Island”
    • Noisy Village books
    • Lotta books
    • Madicken books
    • Seacrow Island
  • “Humor and Farce”
    • Pippi Longstocking books
    • Karlsson books
    • Emil books
  • “Reality and Vision”
    • Mio, My Son
    • The Brothers Lionheart
    • Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter

I could not possibly sum up everything I learned from this book, but what I can do is make a list of super-interesting things that I want to remember:

  • Oskar from Rasmus and the Vagabond is mentioned as having the nickname “God’s Own Cuckoo” in this book, as opposed to the English translation of “God’s best friend.”
  • This books lists Pippi’s name as “Pippilotta Provisonia Gaberdina Dandeliona Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking”
  • Astrid Lindgren was talking about the difference between her two flying characters, Mr. Lilydale and Karlsson: “Mr. Liljonkvast [Lilydale] returned several years later, but then the rascal had gone and changed character, without asking me, and what he had turned into!  Such an unbearable and willful character [Karlsson] that no one really wanted to see him!  He, however, saw himself as a handsome, highly intelligent, and reasonably stout man in his prime.  But he was no longer nice little Mr. Liljonkvast.”
  • On The Brother Lionheart, Astrid Lindgren said, “Never before have I had such strong and spontaneous reactions to any book.”
  • In regards to the younger brother Lionheart, whose name is Karl, it is noted that karl is a Swedish word for man.  This adds depth not only to the younger Lionheart’s journey into growing up, but also to Karlsson-on-the-Roof, who is obsessed with how manly he is!
  • On why she wrote Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, Astrid Lindgren said, “I wanted to get out into the forest.”
  • “Ronia has some free-spirited predecessors in Lindgren’s works.  She is related to Pippi Longstocking, Madicken, and, as already mentioned, the Amazon-like Eva-Lotta in the Bergson trilogy.  These girls overstep the limits of convention, and they always do it outside the family, in a world of their own, with the threat close behind them.”
  • Astrid Lindgren is explaining how she came to be a writer: “If it had not been snowing in Stockholm on a certain day in March 1944, it would probably not have ended that way.”

The most fun pages of the entire book, however, were a couple pages on names.  It lists the Swedish names of characters and the English/American names.  By now, I’ve mostly figured them out – Kalle Blomkvist/Bill Bergson, Madicken/Meg/Mardie, Jum-Jum/Pompoo, etc. – but a few of them absolutely floored me.  For instance, Ronja/Ronia was once translated into English as Kirsty.  KIRSTY.  Thank you, world, for reverting to Ronia.

I also loved the list of books by Astrid Lindgren, but was somewhat dismayed to see only 35 books listed, not even half of what she wrote.  Very few of her picture books were on the list or discussed.  I would love to read more about her picture books.  Alas.

This is a very fun read, but much more enjoyable because I have read almost all of the books discussed.

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Rasmus and the Vagabond

Astrid_RATVRasmus and the Vagabond was translated by Gerry Bothmer from Rasmus pa Luffen (1960) and illustrated by Eric Palmquist.  It tells the story of an energetic and hopeful little boy with straight hair who runs away from the orphanage in search of parents who want him.  He finds Oscar, a vagabond who sings for his supper and sleeps in haylofts.  Latching on to his new best friend, Rasmus tags along and the two accidentally get caught up in the scene of a robbery.  Falsely accused, with Oscar potentially heading to jail and the threat of the orphanage looming over Rasmus, the two must escape and prove that they are innocent – and, if they can, bring the real criminals to justice.

This is a light-hearted, fun book and one of Astrid’s better efforts.  She perfectly manages to sum up the feeling of freedom as Rasmus takes off down the open road with Oscar, resting in meadows and “owning” everything in their sight.  It’s got enough nostalgia for adults to love it, but enough action (including possibly the most fulfilling chase scene I’ve ever read) to keep even screen-junkie kids interested.  It’s a shame this book isn’t more popular than it is.

Oscar’s life philosophy is pretty much perfect: “It’s like this, you see.  Sometimes I want to work and then I want to work very hard, but sometimes I don’t want to work at all.  People seem to think you have to work all the time, and that I can’t get into my poor head.”

This book was also published under the title Rasmus and the Tramp.