A World Gone Mad
Astrid Lindgren, Sarah Death
‘A breathtaking read’ – Die Welt
One of the twentieth century’s greatest children’s writers – and the creator of Pippi Longstocking -reveals her very personal take on the Second World War
Before she became internationally known for her children’s books, Astrid Lindgren was an aspiring author living in Stockholm with her family at the outbreak of the Second World War. These diaries, until recently stored in a wicker laundry basket in her Dalagatan home, offer a civilian, a mother, and an aspiring writer’s unique account of a world devastated by conflict.
In these diaries Lindgren emerges as a morally courageous critic of violence and war, as well as a deeply sensitive and astute observer of world affairs. She provides insights into the Soviet invasion of Finland and the ambiguities of Swedish neutrality, and asks questions about the nature of evil, and our capacity, as individuals, to stand against such malevolent forces.
Alongside political events, Lindgren includes delightful vignettes of domestic life: shortages of butter, blackouts, dinner menus and children’s birthdays, and moving descriptions of her marriage. And these diaries also reveal her emergence as a writer: the bedtime stories she invented for her daughter during this terrible period eventually became Pippi Longstocking, one of the most famous and beloved children’s books of the twentieth century.
Posthumously published in Sweden to great acclaim, and now available for the first time in English, illustrated with family photographs, Lindgren’s diaries provide an intensely personal and vivid chronicle of Europe at war.
Lindgren doesn't experience the same privations as her European neighbours, of course; nevertheless the conflict is hugely formative for her, both psychologically and morally... Her appreciation of the individual cost of such large-scale suffering is striking Observer The diaries make for crisp, painful and perspective-refreshing reading Spectator It offers a remarkable portrait of domestic life in a country maintaining a fragile peace while war raged all around New Statesman Lindgren displays immense compassion for others, on both sides... The diaries often become deeply contemplative Financial Times "Laden with sadness and dismay," the diaries show everything from Lindgren's horror at the deportation of 1,000 Norwegian Jews to Poland - "it is diabolical!" - to her personal heartbreak after a marriage crisis Guardian Sensitive, wide-ranging and offer a rare Scandinavian perspective on the catastrophe of the Nazi war Wall Street Journal The war diaries are marked by fear, astonishment and empathy... breathtaking Die Welt Lindgren's diaries show a compassionate and curious woman trying to fathom the horrors of war through her writing, and leaving behind a wonderful insight into life during a global conflict The National A wonderful and, in place, heart-rending account of World War II, from a perspective not usually prioritised in historical retellings Elle Thinks (blog) A trove of a book, crammed with gem-like observations and truth The National magazine She compassionately, carefully and meticulously documents the horror which was spreading across Europe... these diaries... offer a unique insight into everyday life in Sweden in the shadow of war, and into Lindgren's thoughts on Nazi Germany Zeit The creator of Pippi Longstocking reveals her very personal take on WWII Gransnet A fascinating, engrossing, and wholly unique account of a young writer's attempts to make sense of World War II, from the local concerns of food rationing and the well-being of her children to the larger theatre of war unfolding in Europe, Africa, and Asia. -- Morten Hoi Jensen The newly published 1939-1945 diaries of the globally acclaimed children's book author offer fresh insights into war-time Sweden and into the life of the not-yet-famous Astrid Lindgren Radio Sweden A fascinating time-machine. "Then" becomes "now" -- Per Svensson Sydsvenska Dagbladet
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