Erik Axel Karlfeldt
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1931
Born: 20 July 1864, Karlbo, Sweden
Died: 8 April 1931, Stockholm, Sweden
Residence at the time of the award: Sweden
Prize motivation: “The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”
Erik Axel Karlfeldt was awarded the Nobel Prize posthumously.
Prize share: 1/1
Erik Axel Karlfeldt was born in Folkärna in the province of Dalarna, where generations of his family worked in mining and farming. After completing his schooling in his home town and in Västerås, he studied at Uppsala University (1885-1898), with several breaks to earn money as a teacher and journalist. After graduation, he worked at the Royal Library of Sweden and as a librarian at the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture. Karlfeldt wrote poetry from a young age, and his first collection of poems was published in 1895. In 1904 he was elected a member the Swedish Academy and in 1912 he became its permanent secretary.
Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s poetry is deeply rooted in the region he grew up in and its traditions. The region, however, increasingly became a microcosm to reflect the universal. His works are basically of an untamed nature, while characterized by austerity and a rejection of egotism. His poems often use his alter ego, Fridolin, to represent his mood, yearnings, loss and humor. His poems demonstrate a wonderful grasp of language. Despite his close connection with his native region and its traditions, Karlfeldt tested the possibilities presented by both his imagination and poetry as an art form.