[Marxism] Things You Should Know About Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 1 08:12:23 MDT 2011

Counterpunch Weekend Edition
July 1 - 3, 2011
Things You Should Know About Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson
Swedish Travesty of Justice


"There Are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me.
By Eva Gabrielsson (with Marie-Françoise Colombani)
Trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale.
Seven Stories Press, 224 pp., $23.95

Eva Gabrielsson met Stieg Larsson—the celebrated author of The 
Millennium Trilogy—in 1972, at an anti-Vietnam war meeting. They 
lived together for thirty years, until the time of his death in 
2005, shortly before any of the novels were published. They never 
married, though they had planned to once his novels brought them 
economic stability. Before that time, when Stieg edited Expo, 
which exposed right-wing fascism in Sweden, and there were 
constant threats on his life. The two of them feared that the 
marriage records would make it easy for right-wing fanatics to 
identify where they lived and possibly go after her.

Eva was a trained architect, Stieg a journalist with less formal 
education. Both had been born in the northern part of Sweden, 600 
away from Stockholm where in the winter there were only 
thirty-five minutes of daylight. Metaphorically, that darkness 
permeates much of Larsson's fiction. Stieg was raised by his 
grandfather, a man with strong Old Testament values.

Expo had always been erratically funded, surviving from issue to 
issue. Gabrielsson provides this chilling context: "In the 1990s, 
more than a dozen people were murdered in Sweden for political 
reasons by individuals involved with neo-Nazi groups. Säpo—the 
Security Service, an arm of the Swedish National Police—estimates 
that during 1998 alone, there were more than two thousand 
unprotected racist attacks, more than half of which can be 
directly linked to neo-Nazi militants in White Power groups."

Some of the fanatics obtained the telephone number of the 
apartment Stieg and Eva shared. They received anonymous calls, so 
they installed a security system. Bullets were sent to Stieg in 
the mail. Anyone who has read The Millennium Trilogy understands 
the context. Gabrielsson remarks that nothing in the three novels 
was made up: all the murders, the violence, and the extremism were 
based on actual events. Interestingly, Stieg saw the arrival of 
the Internet as an obvious concern. He wanted it regulated like 
other media. "For racist groups," he said, "cyberspace is a dream."

Larsson began writing his novels in 2002. His strong Lutheran 
upbringing (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth) shaped his 
writing. Gabrielsson refers to this as "the dilemma between 
morality and action." "Individuals change the world and their 
fellow human beings for better or for worse, but each of us acts 
according to his or her own sense of morality, which is why 
everything comes down in the end to personal responsibility. The 
trilogy allowed Stieg to denounce everyone he loathed for their 
cowardice, their irresponsibility, their opportunism: couch-potato 
activists, sunny-day warriors, fair-weather skippers who pick and 
choose their causes; false friends who used him to advance their 
own careers; unscrupulous company heads and shareholders who 
wangle themselves huge bonuses…. Seen in this light, Stieg 
couldn't have had any better therapy for what ailed his soul than 
writing his novels." No surprise that the trilogy's phenomenal 
success in the United States has paralleled the country's rampant 
greed and opportunism, our increasing economic disparity.

Some readers of Gabrielsson's book may accuse her of being 
self-serving, but that is too narrow a response. She shows how 
Stieg drew on her architectural and geographical background when 
he chose the settings and places for his novels. Because the two 
of them sailed and knew the country's many islands, these 
locations often entered into the narratives. Their travels 
(particularly Grenada) operated the same way. Eva read the drafts 
that Stieg wrote and edited them. She was intimately involved in 
the construction of the novels, though she had her own career, 
which, sadly, in the last couple of years of Stieg's life, 
required her to work 150 miles away from him several days a week. 
Though she doesn't say this, she had clearly read every scrap of 
his writing—his journalism and his fiction—for thirty years, was 
intimately connected to his writing life. They had always had a 
difficult time economically.

Then Stieg died, suddenly from a heart attack. And then even 
though they had lived together for most of their lives, because 
they had no children, the National Swedish Institute of Statistics 
classified Eva as "single," not legally heir to Stieg's estate. 
Instead, the estate fell to Stieg's father, Erland, and his 
brother, Joakim, two people with whom he had almost no 
connections, other than biological.

The rest is pretty much a horror story. Eva Gabrielsson has spent 
several years trying to get Stieg's brother and their father to 
assign her control of Stieg's literary estate—not the 
royalties—but the intellectual property. This is her reason: "I do 
not want his name to be an industry or a brand. The way things are 
going, what's to stop me from one day seeing his name on a bottle 
of beer, a packet of coffee, or a car? I don't want his struggles 
and ideals to be sullied and exploited. I know how he would react 
in every situation I'm facing today: he would fight." The two 
"official" heirs have treated her shamelessly, even proposing at 
one time that the only way she could manage his literary estate 
would be by marrying Erland, Stieg's father. What kind of monsters 
can these people be?

Gazillions of dollars have fallen into the hands of Stieg 
Larsson's brother and father from the massive royalties of his 
books (and the movies). Erland and Joakim have become clones of 
the villains of Stieg Larsson's novels—loathsome people the 
Swedish novelist will never be able to depict in his work.

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American 
University, in Washington, D.C. Email: clarson at american.edu.

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