Pär Fabian Lagerkvist
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1951
Born: 23 May 1891, Växjö, Sweden
Died: 11 July 1974, Stockholm, Sweden
Residence at the time of the award: Sweden
Prize motivation: “for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind”
Prize share: 1/1
Pär Lagerkvist was born in Växjö, Sweden. He decided at an early age to become a writer. After a year at the University of Uppsala, he left for Paris in 1913. Until 1930, Lagerkvist lived chiefly in France and Italy, and after his permanent return to Sweden he frequently travelled in the Mediterranean. The political violence and oppression in Europe in the 1940s made Lagerkvist a prominent critic of totalitarianism.
Pär Lagerkvist wrote poems, plays, novels, stories, and essays. He went to Paris in 1913 and was deeply influenced by the expressionist movement. His impressions resulted in Ordkonst och bildkonst (1913) (Verbal Art and Pictorial Art). A recurring theme in Lagerkvist’s writings is the fundamental question of good and evil, and the problem of man’s relation to God. These topics are particularly dealt with in his three novels Dvärgen (1944) (The Dwarf), Barabbas (1950), and Sibyllan (1956) (The Sibyl).