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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Emilie Flygare-Carlén (1807–1892)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
EMILIE SMITH FLYGARE-CARLÉN was born at Strömstad, Sweden, August 8th, 1807. She was the daughter of Rutger Smith, a merchant of that place, and here her childhood was passed, varied by frequent sea trips with her father, and excursions to different parts of the coast. It was probably these early maritime experiences that laid the foundation of her accurate knowledge of the character and habits of the Swedish fisherfolk. In 1827 she was married to Dr. Flygare, a physician of Kronbergslän, but after his death in 1833 she returned to her native place. As a child her talent for imaginative literature was known among her friends, but nothing of any permanent value was developed until after her thirtieth year, when her first novel, ‘Waldemar Klein,’ was published anonymously (1838). After this first successful literary attempt, she went to Stockholm upon the advice of her father (1839), and shortly after she was married to a lawyer of that city, Johan Gabriel Carlén. Carlén was also well known as a poet and novelist, the author of ‘Romanser ur Svenska Volklivet’ (1846, Romances of Swedish Life).  1
  Her novels appeared in quick succession; she at once became popular, and her books were widely read. Her productivity was remarkable. The period of her highest accomplishment was from 1838 to 1852, when a great affliction in the loss of her son suspended her activities for several years. It was not until 1858 that she again resumed her writing. From this time until she was nearly eighty, she wrote regularly, a collection of her last stories appearing in 1887–8. Her daughter, Rosa Carlén, also won popularity as a writer of fiction.  2
  She was honored by the gold medal of the Swedish Academy (1862), and the success of her books was followed by abundant pecuniary reward as well as distinction. Her house in Stockholm was the center of the literary life of the capital until the death of her husband in 1875, when she completely retired from the world. She established the “Rutger Smith Fund” for poor fishermen and their widows, made an endowment for students to the University of Upsala in memory of her son, and also founded in memory of her husband a fund for the assistance of teachers. She died at Stockholm, February 5th, 1892.  3
  As a novelist she shares national honors with her countrywoman, Fredrika Bremer. Her range in fiction was not confined to a single field, but embraced all classes and conditions of Swedish life. Her stories are full of action and rich in incident, and her delineation of character is natural and shows her real experience of human nature. She is most happy in depicting the humble fisherfolk and peasants. The stirring incidents of the adventurous life of the smugglers were congenial themes, and her graphic descriptions give typical pictures of the rough coast life among sailors, fishers, and revenue officers.  4
  Among her best and most characteristic works are: ‘Gustav Lindorm’ (1835); ‘Rosen på Tistelön’ (The Rose of Tistelön), 1842; ‘Jungfrutornet’ (The Maiden’s Tower), 1848; ‘Enslingen på Johannisskäret’ (The Hermit of the Johannis Rock), 1846. Her autobiography, written in her later years, is sprightly and interesting. Her collected works number more than thirty volumes, the greater part of which have been translated into German, French, and English.  5
 
 
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