Eva Gabrielsson and Stieg Larsson were partners for 32 years. Yet when he died suddenly and his Lisbeth Salander series became a posthumous international phenomenon, she was cut out — creatively and financially — despite the rumors that she was behind their writing (rumors she refutes.) In a new memoir, she asserts her claim for being quite a heroine in her own right.
In Millénium, Stieg et moi (out in English translation in June), Gabrielsson reasserts that Larsson was the author of the bestselling trilogy. However, she claims she was inexplicably bound up in their creation. Writes Slate's Sasha Watson,
In Gabrielsson's view, Larsson's work was his life, and his life was also her life, and now all of it has been hijacked. Moreover, as she tells it, Larsson's father and brother, Erland and Joakim, were all but estranged from Larsson and have benefitted from his work due only to a bizarre quirk of the Swedish legal system, which does not recognize common-law marriage. Their sudden interest in Larsson after his death is, she says, all about financial gain.
She deplores the commercialism of his legacy, as well as what she regards as the watering down of Larsson's essential feminist themes: by softening the original title Men Who Hate Women, in translation, she feels the publishers have damaged his original intent. In essence, he wanted to show the a "repertoire of all the forms of violence and discrimination that women are subjected to," in Watson's translation. Worst of all, she feels Larsson would have wanted the books' proceeds to go towards women's and anti-fascist causes — and needless to say, his father and brother implicitly disagree, although they have given away some. (And some feel that they, too, have been taken advantage of by more business-savvy types.)
This is, of course, only one perspective of the issue — indeed, father and brother came off quite sympathetically, too, in the New York Times' profile — but it's a compelling one, and Gabrielsson's rage and commitment seem genuine indeed. And why not? The stakes are very high: few books have had the reach and potential influence of Larsson's. At the same time, the commercialism she deplores may have contributed to its success, at least in the English-speaking world...could one argue that the ends — the exposure to such a character — begin to justify the means? Does the sexing-up of Lisbeth Salander in the upcoming movie undo the essential strength of her character?
The case grinds on, but one thing is for sure: whatever happens, Gabrielsson is getting her message out. Oh, and make a will.