Selma Lagerlöf and the wonderful Adventures of Niels Holgersson

Cover of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

On November 20, 1858Swedish author and Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlöf was born. She is best known for her children’s book ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils‘. Moreover, she was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature.

Selma Lagerlöf attended a teachers college in Stockholm and became a teacher at the girls’ secondary school in Landskrona. Lagerlöf had been writing poetry for a long time, but never published anything until 1890. She received the first prize in a literary competition and began publishing excerpts from the book which was to be her first, best, and most popular work. Gösta Berlings Saga was published in 1891, but went unnoticed until its Danish translation received wide critical acclaim and paved the way for the book’s lasting success in Sweden and elsewhere. She received financial support from the royal family and the Swedish Academy, which enabled her to give up teaching completely and focus on writing. Lagerlöf traveled to Italy and published ‘The Miracles of Antichrist‘ in 1897, followed by ‘Jerusalem‘ in 1900. However, to her most famous books belongs the book ‘Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige ‘, published in 1906. [1]

The book starts out with the young Nils Holgersson, who takes delight in hurting the animals at his family’s farm. The boy catches a tomte while his family is out at church and Nils, who refuses to let the tomte free is turned into a tomte as well. The shrunken boy is now able to talk to the farm animals, who are delighted to see Nils being so tiny and they seek revenge. Meanwhile, wild geese are flying over the farm and a white farm goose attempts to join them. Nils holds on to the bird’s neck as it successfully takes off and joins the wild birds. Those are not too pleased to be joined by a boy and a domestic goose, but they take both on several adventures across Sweden. The goose and Nils have to accomplish several tasks in order to be accepted by the group. Also, Nils learns that the tomte might change him back to regular size, if he did good. [2]

The story around Nils’ adventures became so well known in Sweden, that a picture of Nils Holgersson, on the back of a goose flying over the plains of Scania, was printed on the reverse side of the Swedish 20 krona banknote. Several film adaptations have been produced all over the world and even a very successful anime series was produced.

At yovisto, you may be interested in the video ‘Pixar – a Human Story of Computer Animation

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