Found in Translation: “The Serious Game”

Review of Swedish novel ‘The Serious Game’ by Hjalmar Söderberg.

The Oxford Culture Review

‘You didn’t want my forgiveness. You spat on it. But I want yours! Forgive me!’

Thus speaks the protagonist of The Serious Game by Hjalmar Söderberg, who shot to fame with the publication of Förvillelser in 1897. He became one of Sweden’s most prominent modernist authors, more famous today for Doktor Glas, a story of murder and moral quandary (and the subject of a later blog post).

Published in 1912, The Serious Game was Söderberg’s most successful book, and tells the story of journalist Arvid Stjärnblom and his love affair with his childhood sweetheart Lydia Stille. Set in Stockholm at the turn of the century, Lydia and Arvid are swept into separate, unenthusiastic marriages, and from this starting point the novel explores the possibility of love and desire when free will is set against the forces of fate. Arvid’s fellow journalist Markel says to him ‘You do not choose…

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