By now you may have read Steig Larsen’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
or seen the trilogy of Swedish films. You may have seen the recent American remake starring Daniel Craig and Mara Rooney
or heard about the legal struggle between Larsen’s widow and family. So the name “Kalle Blomkvist” may sound familiar. It is the derogatory nickname given to Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist/Daniel Craig ‘s character). Blomkvist is an investigative journalist, one who frequently butts heads with the police and authorities. “Kalle Blomkvist” is the name of a popular boy detective in Sweden; this is the equivalent of American cops calling a journalist “Hardy Boy” or “Nancy Drew” (although Richard Castle considers this a compliment: http://www.tvrage.com/Castle/episodes/781866)
American’s have no point of reference for the name, which is not surprising. Much of the novel’s appeal here is the eye-opening introduction into Swedish society. We do however have a point of reference for the novel’s other protagonist; Lisabeth Salander. It’s not obvious, as Salander is described and portrayed as a tattooed, pierced, punk computer hacker with jet black dyed hair. But Larsen leaves clues to his heroine’s origins: her original hair color was red, she seems to have super human strength,and her apartment is “V. Kulla,” which is shorthand for “Villa Villekulla,” the name of Pipi Lockstocking’s house. Yes, Lisabeth Salander is a re-imagining of Pipi Longstocking, all grown up, a fact confirmed by Larsen
(the New York Times dubbed Lisbeth “Pipi Lonstocking, with Dragon Tatoo” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/weekinreview/23ryan.html).
So we know, or are at least familiar with the image of the fearless Pipi, and to see Larsen play with her image this way adds depth to the characterization of Salander. Which still leaves us with the question Who the [Bleep] is Kalle Blomkvist?
He is another of Astrid Lindgren’s child characters, published in America as “Bill Bergson-Master Detective”.
Unlike Pipi though, which has undergone multiple printings, the Bill Bergson novels have long ago gone out of print. Seemingly it was Lindgren’s first trilogy, the first of which was published in 1946, before Pipi. They have been republished but the last printing seems to be in the 1960’s. A quick look at Amazon shows that Astrid Lindgren’s other books all seem to be in print, thank you very much. Although not as well-known as Pippi, Ronia, Emil, and Lotta all continue to be in available in English. So why not Kalle?
Perhaps it is that awful name, “Bill Bergson”. No doubt changed by publishers, trying to cash in on the always popular trend, “Characters with Alliterative Names. Some examples include “Jupiter Jones” from The Three Investigators series or “Christopher Cool” and “Bert Bobbsey” from the Stratemeyer Publishing Syndicate; today J.K. Rowling has continued this trend. So Bill Bergson may have simply gotten lost in the mix. At this late date, it’s perhaps impossible to know why these books have fallen out of print and fashion. Which leaves us back where we began. . .
Who is Kalle Blomkvist?
>Part 2 coming soon!