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Erik Axel Karlfeldt

AKA Erik Axel Eriksson

Born: 20-Jul-1864
Birthplace: Karlbo, Dalekarlia, Sweden
Died: 8-Apr-1931
Location of death: Stockholm, Sweden
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Folkärna Kyrkogård, Avesta, Sweden

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Poet

Nationality: Sweden
Executive summary: Songs of the wilderness and love

Swedish poet Erik Axel Karlfeldt wrote about nature, love, and life among the peasants of the Scandinavian Peninsula, inspired by his own experiences growing up on a farmstead in rural Sweden. Born Erik Eriksson, at the age of 25 he re-named himself after his home town, to separate himself from his father, who had died in bankruptcy after being convicted of a felony (the nature of his father's crime has been lost to history). Karlfeldt's poetry made him famous, but he remained somewhat aloof and reclusive, rarely making public appearances or socializing with other celebrities. When he commented on current events, it was usually in verse. Even at the height of his popularity, his poems were considered "old-fashioned", and his works remain rarely read beyond the Scandinavian nations.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1931, and the internal mechanisms behind Karlfield's prize are intriguing: He was first nominated for the Nobel in 1918, and nominees are never told they are under consideration, but Karlfield knew -- because from 1904 until his death he served on the Swedish Academy, which debates and decides the annual winner of that Prize. He considered it unseemly and inappropriate to sit in judgment of his own work, and had his name removed from consideration in 1918 and again in 1921, when he was re-nominated. He might have declined again in 1931, but after being nominated, he died. By the Nobel Foundation's rules at the time, nominees were required to be alive, but if a nominee died during deliberations he or she remained eligible. Karlfield's honor was announced six months after his death, making him the first of very few posthumous Nobel winners. The rules have since been altered -- death during deliberations, like death before nomination, now disqualifies anyone from Nobel consideration.

Father: Erik Janson (farmer/attorney)
Mother: Anna Stina Jansdotter
Wife: Gerda Ottilia Holmberg (m. 1916, four children)

    High School: Västerås School, Västerås, Sweden (1885)
    University: University of Uppsala (1898)
    Teacher: grammar school, Djursholm, Sweden (1893-96)
    Administrator: Librarian, Royal Library (1898-1903)
    Administrator: Librarian, Swedish Agricultural Academy (1903-12)

    Nobel Prize for Literature 1931 (awarded posthumously)

Author of books:
Vildmarks-och kärleksvisor (Songs of the Wilderness and of Love) (1895, collected poems)
Fridolins visor (Fridolin's Song) (1898, collected poems)
Fridolins lustgård (Fridolin's Pleasure Garden) (1901, collected poems)
Flora och Pomona (Flora and Pomona) (1906, collected poems)
Flora och Bellona (Flora and Bellona) (1918, collected poems)
Fridolins visor och andra dikter (1925)
Hösthorn (The Horn of Autumn) (1927, collected poems)
Why Sinclair Lewis Got the Nobel Prize (1931)
Arcadia Borealis (1938, collected poems, published posthumously)
The North! To the North! (2001, collected poems, published posthumously)

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