Writer portrait 
Karin Boye

Karin Boye

Karin Boye, one of Sweden's most well-known and loved poets, was born in 1900 and committed suicide in 1941, because of the development of WWII. Boye is most talked about as a poet – almost everyone in Sweden knows at least some line from her many poems – but she also published great novels, like the dystopia “Kallocain” and “Crisis”, a sad story about same sex love.

Boye was a groundbreaking poet in her combination of classical and modern thinking. Sometimes rhyming, sometimes not, she always wrote about big themes: love, loss and sadness. Her longing for a better world, as well as her disappointment with the socialistic states and her feeling that those had much in common with fascism, opened up for “Kallocain” – a story about a world were the state controls everything.

With her feeling for language and important themes, Boye remains one of the classical authors of the 20th century.

“Kallocain”, written in 1940 and coloured by the war, is a story about a world were the state has cameras in people's bedrooms and were the children are taken away from their parents at the age of twelve, in order to become citizens rather than daughters and sons. The protagonist, Leo Kall, works in chemistry. He has discovered a truth serum – the kallocain. When given to people risking their lives to serve the research of the state, they soon reveal that no one in the society is yet fully brainwashed. Everyone has feelings and thoughts that they can’t stand for in the eyes of the state. When people are put to death because of uttering these truths under the influence of kallocain, Leo Kall starts questioning his love for the state – and his new nightmare is that someone will use his discovery on himself.

“Kallocain” is a dark, feverish dystopic novel about the will to be free and how no rule in the world can totally brainwash its citizens.

“The Complete Poems” is nothing less than 190 pages of Boye’s poems, from her debut in 1922 to the posthumous collection. Boye is most known for her exquisite rhymes, but was also one of the early Swedish poets to write unrhymed and in prose. The poems are classical in their tone – but timeless. Focusing on themes like love, sadness, death and nature, they have something to say also today and outside Sweden.

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