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Stieg Larsson’s Girl Who

November 23, 2009

I recently finished reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third installment of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’. While I don’t think the third book is quite as compelling as the previous two–a decline that may be explained by the state of the three manuscripts when their author Stieg Larsson died suddenly aged 50, in 2004–taken together these books represent a great achievement in crime fiction. The writing is not always as sharp as it could be, but the scope of the story is enormous. Christopher Hitchens, writing in Vanity Fair, agrees:

In life, Stieg Larsson described himself as, among other things, “a feminist,” and his character surrogate, Mikael Blomkvist, takes an ostentatiously severe line against the male domination of society and indeed of his own profession. (The original grim and Swedish title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Men Who Hate Women, while the trilogy’s third book bore the more fairy-tale-like name The Castle in the Air That Blew Up: the clever rebranding of the series with the word “girl” on every cover was obviously critical.) Blomkvist’s moral righteousness comes in very useful for the action of the novels, because it allows the depiction of a great deal of cruelty to women, smuggled through customs under the disguise of a strong disapproval. Sweden used to be notorious, in the late 1960s, as the homeland of the film I Am Curious (Yellow), which went all the way to the Supreme Court when distributed in the United States and gave Sweden a world reputation as a place of smiling nudity and guilt-free sex. What a world of nursery innocence that was, compared with the child slavery and exploitation that are evoked with perhaps slightly too much relish by the crusading Blomkvist. [More]

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