book cover of Gosta Berling\'s Saga

Gosta Berling's Saga

A novel by

The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, Selma Lagerlof assured her place in Swedish letters with this popular book. Originally published in 1891, Gosta Berling's Saga was Lagerlof's first novel, and it remains widely acclaimed as her finest work. The 1924 silent movie version launched Greta Garbo's international career, introducing a new generation to these imaginative stories of peasant life amid the scenic splendor of northern Sweden.

Lagerlof drew inspiration from her grandmother's recountings of the legends, superstitions, and fairy tales of their native province in the rural Varmland region. Gosta Berling's Saga features a vivid cast of characters, headed by the eponymous hero, a country pastor whose appetite for alcohol ends his ministerial career. The former clergyman falls in with a dozen vagrant Swedish cavaliers, who steer him into a power struggle with the richest woman in the province. Steeped in supernatural lore, the novel marked a departure from the era's literary realism and helped usher in the Swedish Romantic revival of the 1890s. Its colorful vignettes and striking symbolism continue to enchant readers around the world.

Genre: Literary Fiction

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