Who is PL?

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Antigone on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 12:17 am:

    Years ago I copied down these stories because I liked them so much. Unfortunately I only copied down the initials of the author, not the whole name. I remember that it's rather Scandanavian sounding, but I can't recall it all.

    The stories are still great, though...

By Antigone on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 12:19 am:

    Love and Death

    One evening as I was out walking with my sweetheart in the street, the door of a gloomy house we were passing was opened suddenly and a Cupid put one foot out of the darkness. He was no ordinary little Cupid but a large man, heavy and muscular, with hair all over his body. He most resembled a brutish archer as he stood with his clumsy crossbow aimed at me. He shot an arrow which hit me in the breast; then he drew in his leg and shut the door of the house that was like a dark, cheerless fortress. I sank down; my sweetheart walked on. I don't think she noticed that I sank down. Had she noticed she would certainly have stopped and bent over me and tried to do something for me. The fact that she walked on meant that she could not have seen it. My blood ran after her in the gutter for a while, but stopped when there was none left.


By Antigone on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 12:20 am:

    The Adventure

    A ship with black sails came to take me away. And I went on board willingly enough. I might just as well take a little trip: I was young and carefree and had a longing for the sea. We put out from the coast, which soon disappeared behind us, and the ship was borne steadily along by a fresh wind. Those of the crew with whom I came in contact were stern and grave; we had little to say to each other on board. We sailed and sailed day and night for a long time on the same course. We did not come across any land. We sailed year after year; the sea was blank, the wind good. There was no sign of land. At last I thought this was strange and asked one of the crew what was the reason. He answered that there was no world any longer. It was annihilated, had sunk down into the depths.

    There was only ourselves.

    I thought that was exciting. We kept on sailing for a long time. The sea lay void. The wind filled the black sails. Everything was empty; there were only the depths below us. Then a frightful storm burst. The sea roared and heaved around us. We fought in the darkness. The storm did not cease, nor the darkness. Year after year it continued. The clouds trailed across the black sails; everything was black and empty and desolate. We fought in the night, in anguish and need, wrought-up, lacerated, without daring to hope any more.

    Then at last we heard the deafening sound of breakers. We were cast by a mighty wave against a rocky island which rose out of the sea. The ship was broken to pieces; we clung to the rock. The wreckage and shreds of sail floated about; we clung fast to the ground. At long last it grew light and we could see. The little island on which we had been saved was rugged and dark. There was only a single storm-blown tree, no flowers or verdure. We clung fast. We were happy. We laid our cheeks to the ground and wept for joy. It was the world beginning to rise up out of the depths again.


By Antigone on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 12:22 am:

    The Evil Angel

    An evil angel passed along the deserted streets in the middle of the night. The storm howled between the rows of houses, raged up above in the darkness; there was not a soul to be seen, only he. He walked hunched against the wind, coarse and sinewy, tight-lipped. About his body was a blood red mantle which concealed the huge wings. He had broken out of the cathedral; he had stood there long enough in the musty stench. Century after century he had smelled the reek of wax candles and incense under the vaults; century after century he had heard songs of praise and the mumble of prayers to a god which hung dead above his head. For centuries he had seen people kneeling with their eyes raised, gabbling everything they believed in. This craven mob, stinking of faith in a pack of lies! This sickening jumble of bewilderment, worry and pitiful hope of being let off, of still being able to clutch on! Now he had broken out!

    He had risen out of his fetters and trampled on the altar with his sinewy foot, knocking over the holy vessels. He had stepped down in wrath onto the floor of the church and kicked aside the hassocks. The saints hung round with their pious, ecstatic faces; the relics inside the gratings smelt decayed; in a side chapel, where the light was burning, a child lay on musty straw and a mother of wax knelt beside it--all this litter of lies and stupidity! Kicking open the doors, he stood outside in the windy night.

    Only he was true!

    He walked into the streets, stood and looked about him. Oh, so this was how they lived--humankind.

    He stopped in front of of the doorway of a house, looking up at it with burning eyes. Then he scratched a cross on the door with the sword he was carrying. "You shall die!" he said.

    Then he went to the next, crouching; the wings attached to the enormous shoulders gave him the appearance of being hunchbacked. There, too, he stopped, scratched the cross again. "You shall die," he said.

    So he moved from one house to the next, scratching with the sword, which was short and thick, as if for slaughtering.

    "You shall die. You shall die. And you shall die. And you shall die.

    "And you!"

    He went on through the whole town, battling against the wind, forgetting no one.

    When he had finished he went outside the ramparts, out into the night where no one lived. There he threw off his mantle and stood naked. And spreading out his wings he flew away into the wide open darkness.

    When people awoke the next morning they were all surprised to find a cross on their houses. But they were not frightened. They wondered how it had happened and why it had been done; talked about it before going as usual to their work. Why had this well known sign been carved everywhere? There was so much else of greater importance of which to remind them.

    They knew quite well that they were going to die, they said.


By Rhiannon on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 12:25 pm:

    I like those. Did you copy down any more?

    (Sorry I can't be any help with the author...)

By Lucy Phurre on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 06:51 pm:

    I think someone fed Kafka a bunch of acid (or ergot, or whatever they had at the time) and applied a pseudonym to it.

    Good stuff, anyway.

By Antigone on Wednesday, August 25, 1999 - 10:23 pm:

    These were the only stories I copied down. That's why I'm searching for the author's name. I want more, more, more!

    And, there was peyote back then, but I don't think it got to Scandanavia. :-)

By JusMiceElf on Thursday, August 26, 1999 - 03:06 am:

    Par Lagerkvist, one of my favorite authors ever. Those stories are found in a collection called _The Marriage Feast_. It's still in print, published by Hill and Wang. It's a fantastic collection of short (some very short, like the ones you posted) stories. My dad introduced me to his books years ago. My favorite is probably still _The Dwarf_, narrated by a dwarf in an Italian court. _Barrabas_, about the thief who was freed when Jesus was crucified, is another great novel of his. There's a second collection of stories, called _The Eternal Smile_. Oh, I could go on and on, but it's late! I'm thrilled that you've read his work though. Hope you can find some of the books now, and enjoy them.

By JusMiceElf on Thursday, August 26, 1999 - 03:11 am:

    I am twenty-six inches tall, shapely and well proportioned, my head perhaps a trifle too large. My hair is not black like the others', but reddis, very stiff and thick, drawn back from the temples and the broad but not especially lofty brow. My face is beardless, but otherwise just like that of other men. My eyebrows meet. My bodily strenth is considerable, particularly if I am annoyed. When the wrestling match was arranged between Jehoshaphat and myself I forced him onth his back after twenty minutes and strangled him. Since then I have been the only dwarf at this court.

    The opening paragraph from _The Dwarf_, by Par Lagerkvist.

By Antigone on Thursday, August 26, 1999 - 09:52 am:

    YEEEE HAW!!!! Thanks!

By Rhiannon on Thursday, August 26, 1999 - 12:03 pm:

    *blows many kisses to JusMiceElf*

    (Well, you know Antigone's not going to do it)

By JusMiceElf on Thursday, August 26, 1999 - 12:04 pm:

    Enjoy! And thank you--it's been a long time since I've read any of those stories, probably over three years now at least. I used to reread The Dwarf on a regular basis. Now I've got the books out on the coffee table, and might give them a reread.

    ps, I saw all of the ones I mentioned listed as in print on Amazon, so they are available.

By Antigone on Friday, August 27, 1999 - 01:17 am:

    I just bought four books, including _The Marriage Feast_ and _The Dwarf_.

    Thanks much, Elf!

    *blows many kisses to JusMiceElf*

    So there, Rhi...

By Rhiannon on Friday, August 27, 1999 - 12:18 pm:

    Ha ha! I stand corrected!

    I'm also psyched because I just checked my school's library catalog, and it seems we have many books by PL! Yay!

By JusMiceElf on Friday, August 27, 1999 - 11:59 pm:

    Well! I'm just overwhelmed with kisses. If both of y'all are going to be reading Lagerkvist, I might just do that reread. I'd love to get some discussion going about the books, particularly The Dwarf.


By JusMiceElf on Friday, August 27, 1999 - 11:59 pm:

    Well! I'm just overwhelmed with kisses. If both of y'all are going to be reading Lagerkvist, I might just do that reread. I'd love to get some discussion going about the books, particularly The Dwarf.


By Rhiannon on Friday, September 17, 1999 - 09:06 pm:

    I just finished "The Dwarf"! Who wants to discuss?

By Rhiannon on Saturday, September 18, 1999 - 12:32 pm:

    Okay, I'll start.

    It is my belief that the whole character of the dwarf can be summed up in this one sentence: "It is strange that I who can see the fires which are so far away, cannot perceive the stars" (167).

    Agree? Disagree?

By Antigone on Saturday, September 18, 1999 - 02:04 pm:

    I have the book, but I have yet to read it. I'll put it first on my list of "next books" though!

By JusMiceElf on Monday, September 20, 1999 - 09:41 pm:

    Well, Rhiannon, I only got a couple of pages in before I set it aside once again. I was laid up about a week and a half ago with a strep infection in my leg, and I opted for slightly more cheerful reading when I was in the hospital with an IV stuck in my arm. So I read the third Harry Potter book instead. Now I'm reading the intro to special ed textbook. Oh joy.

    I'd rather be reading The Dwarf. But I think your perception is pretty right on. Tintoretto is blind to a lot of what goes on around him, including the emotions and motivations of most of the players in the court. He scorns what he cannot understand. Witness his reaction to the princess, or again his views on da Vinci and his work.

    I reckon I'll have more to say when I read it again, but I have read it at least four or five times, for a while it was one of my comfort books, that I'd reread on a rainy day.

By Rhiannon on Monday, September 20, 1999 - 10:48 pm:

    Oh, gosh...I'm sorry to hear about your infection. I hope you're all right now.

    Very sensible of you to go with Harry Potter -- I don't think I'd want to read "The Dwarf" when down either.

    The thing I liked most about the book was that Tintoretto was so transparently negative, meaning, you could see the reality behind his descriptions. You could see that Angelica was really a very lovely, modest young lady, and that her love for Giovanni was true. You could see that Don Riccardo was probably a very well-liked, well-respected, brave man, despite the dwarf's descriptions. Etc.

    One detail I liked a lot was when Maestro Bernardo couldn't finish the Princess' portrait, because *he* knew that he hadn't captured her true nature, while the dwarf was certain he had. One thing I have always believed in is something I think of as a three-layered soul, the first layer being a seemingly-false imitation of the third. The Princess seemed respectable at first glance. The dwarf dug only as far as the second layer, finding debauchery. But Bernardo knew there was the third layer, goodness, which he finally captured in his second portrait.

    The Stephen Millhauser (whom I really like, BTW) story it reminded me of first off is called "Cathay," which is the last story in "In the Penny Arcade." It's a description of a mystical kingdom, written in broken parts, like "The Dwarf."

    But then I realized he wrote another story -- a novella, actually -- called (I think) "The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon" (found in his book "Little Kingdoms").

    I don't have the book with me now, and I haven't read it in quite a while, so I'm not too sure about the details. I believe it is about a princess who is extraordinarily virtuous, and her husband adores her, until a stranger comes to visit the kingdom. The prince becomes extremely jealous of the two of them, and forces them into having an affair (literally). The dwarf is a messenger of the prince and acts as a spy. He manages to get the stranger imprisoned in the dungeon...and that's all I remember. Or the princess is imprisoned. Something like that. It was a very good story. Similar to "The Dwarf" on a superficial level...the themes were very different.

    I'm wondering what Lagerkvist's intentions were with this story. What was his message?

By Spider on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 03:38 pm:

    The three-layered soul!

    As I have been thinking of the story which I plan to write as a study guide to the actual story (you know, that one), the three-layered truth idea came up again.

    I hadn't realized I had thought of the idea so long ago.

    I want the present story to appear at first to be a simple Austen-like love story. Later, after a particular moment, the reader realizes this is not a love story at all, but something perverse and frightening. In the end, the reader sees that it is a love story after all. Their first impression matches their final impression, but the final impression is the complete truth.

    The characters will also display the three layers, as will the plot.

    The first layer appears artificial, the second is the complete opposite of the first and appears real, and the third is the same as the first but is richer, more complex, and more resonant.

By TBone on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 05:41 pm:

    Reading this thread from start to finish just now was one of the stranger experiences I've had in a while.
    Some background:
    Before I started reading, I hadn't had anything to eat all day (it's about 2:30 pm here) and I hadn't had a full dose of my medication in 3 days. Half doses the previous two days and none today.
    But I had just got back from the pharmacy, so I took a full dose just before I started reading. I also started eating a pot pie.
    I have no idea how long it took me to read these, but it feels like about a week.
    These stories are fascinating to read, but my mind kept wandering to my nanowrimo novel and back, and by the time I started getting to the end, everthing was starting to feel very surreal and I was having a lot of trouble staying "here".
    The result:
    I'm completely worthless for the rest of the workday. My brain is completely derailed from all computer programming activities.
    The 3-layered soul concept exploded around me and I'm not sure I'll be able to view many people the same ever again.
    I also feel like I should abandon my nanowrimo novel as it is because my characters barely have a first layer. I can no longer write my story unless I know my characters.
    I burnt my tongue, and can't taste my root beer.
    I completely lost my time sense for the day. The clock says 3:00 but my sense of when it is doesn't know if it's day or night.
    I feel one level removed from everything I'm doing, including writing this post. It may not make any sense because I'm not paying much attention.
    I don't want to talk to anyone for the rest of the day. Just sit and think and brood and maybe write.
    I also feel like taking a nap, which is in some ways contradictory to my other urges. I feel both light-headed and heavy-headed.
    I _need_ to get my hands on some more of PL's writing.

By semillama on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 05:56 pm:

    boy you're stoned.

    Those stories seemed very much like dreams that the author wrote down.

By TBone on Tuesday, November 25, 2003 - 06:15 pm:

    Yeah, pretty much. That doesn't usually happen.
    I thought the same thing about his stories being dreams.

By Coward on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 03:09 pm:

    Would any one care to post what they think of the short, short anicdote, simply entitled, "Love and Death"?
    Though it is probably Lagerkvist's shortest bit of writing, I think that it says just as much about the human soul and its ego as most of his other tales do.
    To me, the very last sentence, "My blood ran after her in the gutter for a while, but stopped when there was none left," tells so much of the lost hope brought about by naivity that so many people struggle with in their everyday events.


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