Mountain View

Overview

Erik Axel Karlfeldt (20 July 1864 – 8 April 1931) was a Swedish poet whose highly symbolist poetry masquerading as regionalism was popular and won him the Nobel Prize in Literature posthumously in 1931 after he had been nominated by Nathan Sderblom, member of the Swedish Academy. It has been rumored that he had been offered, but declined, the award already in 1919.

Karlfeldt was born into a farmer’s family in Karlbo, in the province of Dalarna. Initially, his name was Erik Axel Eriksson, but he assumed his new name in 1889, wanting to distance himself from his father, who had suffered the disgrace of a criminal conviction. He studied at Uppsala University, simultaneously supporting himself by teaching school in several places, including Djursholms samskola in the Stockholm suburb of Djursholm and at a school for adults. After completing his studies, he held a position at the Royal Library of Sweden, in Stockholm, for five years.

In 1904 Karlfeldt was elected a member of the Swedish Academy and held chair number 11. In 1905 he was elected a member of the Nobel Institute of the Academy, and, in 1907, of the Nobel Committee. In 1912 he was elected permanent secretary of the Academy, a position he held until his death.

Uppsala University, Karlfeldt’s alma mater, awarded him the title of Doctor honoris causae in 1917.

His works in English

  • Modern Swedish Poetry Part 1 (1929) – (trans. by C. D. Locock)
  • Arcadia Borealis (1938) – (trans. by Charles Wharton Stork)
  • The North! To the North! (2001) – (trans. by Judith Moffett, five poets including Karlfeldt)