Swedish cover of the first installment in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
|Translator||Reg Keeland, pseudonym of Steven T. Murray|
|Genre||Crime / Mystery novel|
|Published||August 2005–May 2007|
|Published in English||January 2008–October 2009|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|No. of books||4|
The Millennium series is a series of best-selling and award-winning Swedish crime novels, created by Stieg Larsson. The two primary characters in the saga are Lisbeth Salander, a woman in her twenties with a photographic memory and poor social skills, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and publisher of a magazine called Millennium.
Larsson planned the series as having ten installments, but due to his sudden death in 2004, only three were completed and published. The first,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor, literally, Men Who Hate Women) in 2005, the second, The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden, literally, The Girl Who Played with Fire), in 2006 and the third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Luftslottet som sprängdes, literally, The Air Castle that was Blown Up) in 2007.
The series was originally printed in Swedish by Norstedts Förlag, with English editions by Quercus in the United Kingdom and Alfred A. Knopf in the United States. The books have since been published by many publishers in fifty countries. As of March 2015, 80 million copies of the three books have been sold worldwide.
A fourth book, The Girl in the Spider's Web, commissioned by the publisher Norstedts to continue the series, was published in August 2015. The book is based on Larsson's characters and was written by the Swedish author and crime journalist David Lagercrantz.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Publication
- 3 Reception
- 4 Novels
- 5 Adaptations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
After his death, many of Larsson's friends said the character of Lisbeth Salander was created out of an incident in which Larsson, then a teenager, witnessed three of his friends gang-raping an acquaintance of his named Lisbeth, and did nothing to stop it. Days later, wracked with guilt, he begged her forgiveness — which she refused. The incident, he said, haunted him for years afterward, and in part moved him to create a character with her name who was also a rape survivor. The veracity of this story has since been questioned, after a colleague from Expo magazine reported to Rolling Stone that Larsson had told him that he had heard the story secondhand and retold it as his own.
In the only interview he ever did about the series, Larsson stated that he based the character on what he imagined Pippi Longstocking might have been like as an adult. Another source of inspiration was Larsson's niece, Therese. A rebellious teenager, she often wore black clothing and makeup and told him several times that she wanted to get a tattoo of a dragon. The author often emailed Therese while writing the novels to ask her about her life and how she would react in certain situations.
Larsson's friend and colleague Kurdo Baksi believes the author was also influenced by two murders in 2001 and 2002: Melissa Nordell, a model killed by her boyfriend, and Fadime Şahindal, a Swedish-Kurdish woman killed by her father. Both women were killed at the hands of men or as victims of honor crime. To Larsson, there was no difference, and the "systematic violence" against women highly affected and inspired him to take action against these crimes through his writing. Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson's longtime partner, wrote that "the trilogy allowed Stieg to denounce everyone he loathed for their cowardice, their irresponsibility, and their opportunism: couch-potato activists, sunny-day warriors, fair-weather skippers who pick and choose their causes; false friends who used him to advance their own careers; unscrupulous company heads and shareholders who wrangle themselves huge bonuses.... Seen in this light, Stieg couldn't have had any better therapy for what ailed his soul than writing his novels."
People who knew Larsson, such as Baksi and Anders Hellberg, a colleague of Larsson's in the 1970s and 1980s, were surprised that he wrote the novels. Hellberg went so far as to suspect that Larsson is not the sole author of the series, reasoning that Larsson was simply not a good enough writer. Gabrielsson has been named as the most likely candidate, due to her chosen wording during at least one interview that seemed to imply co-authorship. Although she later claimed she had been misquoted. In 2011 Gabrielsson expressed anger at such accusations and clarified; "The actual writing, the craftsmanship, was Stieg's. But the content is a different matter. There are a lot of my thoughts, ideas and work in there." As an example she said he used her unfinished book about architect Per Olof Hallman to research locations for the Millennium series and that the two of them physically checked places together and discussed where the characters would live.
Having begun writing the first book in summer 2002, Larsson waited until finishing the first two and most of the third before submitting them to Swedish publishers. Although Baksi suggested he might have written the first chapter in 1997, which is when Larsson told him he was writing a novel. While other publishers had turned the manuscripts down, Expo's publisher Robert Aschberg recommended them to Norstedts Förlag, whose editors accepted after reading the first two books in a single sitting. Norstedts commissioned Steven T. Murray to undertake the English translation. Larsson tried to get British publishers to accept his book, but was turned down until Christopher Maclehose bought the global English-language rights of the book for Quercus, a small London publisher. Both Gabrielsson and Murray have said that Maclehose "needlessly prettified" the English translation, this being the reason Murray requested he be credited under the pseudonym "Reg Keeland." The English releases changed the titles, even though Larsson specifically refused to allow the Swedish publisher to change the name of the first novel, and the size of Salander's dragon tattoo; from a large piece covering her entire back, to a small shoulder tattoo. Alfred A. Knopf bought the U.S. rights to the books after Larsson's death in 2004, and uses this same translation.
The first novel won Sweden's Glass Key award in 2006, that same year the second book won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award, and in 2008 the third novel also won the Glass Key award. In the 2012 revised edition of Japan's Tozai Mystery Best 100, the Millennium series was ranked the twelfth best mystery from the West. By May 2010, 27 million copies of the trilogy had been sold worldwide, a number that would grow to more than 46 million over the next five months, and reach 65 million in December 2011. In July 2010 the series made Larsson the first author to sell a million electronic copies of his work on the Amazon Kindle. Sales reached 75 million copies throughout fifty countries by December 2013, and 80 million by March 2015.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist has been convicted of libelling billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström and wants to escape the media attention. He is hired by industrial tycoon Henrik Vanger under the guise of writing a biography of Henrik and the Vanger family, while really investigating the 36-year-old disappearance of Henrik's niece Harriet. He teams up with the introverted and skilled computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Mikael Blomkvist is contacted by freelance journalist Dag Svensson in regards to having Millennium publish his expose on the sex trade in Sweden, which includes implicating government officials. Svensson and his girlfriend are murdered and the police believe Lisbeth Salander is the culprit. Blomkvist works to prove Salander's innocence while also trying to finish Svensson's piece and finds that both are connected.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Having learned of a secret group within the Swedish Security Service that has committed several constitutional violations against Lisbeth Salander, Mikael Blomkvist and a group of policemen from Swedish Security Service's Constitutional Protection division try to learn who its members are and have Salander cleared of the murder charges against her.
Larsson's unfinished material
Larsson wrote an incomplete manuscript of another novel in the series before his sudden death in November 2004. His partner, Eva Gabrielsson, is in possession of the notebook computer with the manuscript, but does not own the rights to Larsson's work. In an attempt to protect Gabrielsson from the people he was investigating in real life (Swedish Neo-Nazis and racists), Larsson never married. He wrote a will but it was not witnessed, making it invalid according to Swedish law. Thus, it is his family who have succession. Outlines or manuscripts for a fifth and sixth book possibly exist.
In 2010, Larsson's friend John-Henri Holmberg showed the Associated Press emails he received from the author shortly before his death that supposedly described plans for another book in the series. In them Larsson wrote "The plot is set 120 kilometres north of Sachs Harbour, at Banks Island in the month of September ... According to the synopsis it should be 440 pages."
Gabrielsson has described the manuscript as roughly 200 pages, having a working title of "Guds hämd" (God's Revenge), being 30% complete and "Not worth publishing as is." In 2011 Gabrielsson said "I once offered to finish it, but I have to have the legal rights to do so, and they didn't want to give me that, so I think we should all be happy that there are just three." Only months earlier, Larsson's former colleague Kurdo Baksi said he and the author's father were shown the manuscript by Gabrielsson shortly after Larsson's death and that "It is at 260 pages at the moment – about 70% complete." He described the manuscript as being the fifth in the series, set "between Ireland, Sweden and the US" and largely featuring Lisbeth Salander's twin sister Camilla. Baksi is also against having a ghost writer complete it, believing that they "would not respect Stieg Larsson's style."
The Girl in the Spider's Web
In December 2013, the Swedish publisher Norstedts announced that a fourth Millennium book, to be published in August 2015, would be written by David Lagercrantz, a Swedish author known as Zlatan Ibrahimović's biographer. Larsson's partner Eva Gabrielsson has voiced criticism against this project, which has not made use of the unpublished material which is still in her possession. The Swedish title of the book is Det som inte dödar oss, literally translated "That Which Does Not Kill Us". Like the previous novels, the English language translation was published by Quercus. The book was released with the English language title The Girl in the Spider's Web in the UK on 27 August and in the US on 1 September 2015.
An early review by Upsala Nya Tidning characterised The Girl in the Spider's Web as "standard crime" portraying more brooding, human versions of Blomkvist and Salander, while downplaying the earlier "exaggerated and cartoonish features of the series".
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, released on February 25, 2009.
- The Girl Who Played with Fire, released on September 18, 2009.
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, released on November 27, 2009.
The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird has produced film versions of the Millennium Trilogy, co-produced with The Danish film production company Nordisk Film and television company, which were released in Scandinavia in 2009. In 2010, the extending of all three films to approximately 180 minutes led to their being shown on Swedish television as the six-part Millennium series. Each film was divided into two parts of 90 minutes. This version was released on July 14, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in three separate sets and on November 24, 2010 as a Complete Millennium Trilogy box set with an extra disc.
Originally, only the first film was meant for a theatrical release, with the following ones conceived as TV films, but this was changed in the wake of the tremendous success of the first film. The first film was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and the next two by Daniel Alfredson, while the screenplays of the first two were adapted by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, and the last one by Ulf Rydberg and Jonas Frykberg. All three films feature Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Released in North America on December 21, 2011, and in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2011.
Yellow Bird and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer partnered with Columbia Pictures to produce an English-language adaptation of the first novel. The film is written by Steven Zaillian, directed by David Fincher and produced by Scott Rudin, with Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander. Along with Dragon Tattoo, Fincher and Zaillian have signed a two-picture deal to adapt The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, which may be shot back to back. In January 2012, it was announced that Sony was "moving forward" with the adaptations of The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Zaillian wrote the original screenplays, but Sony brought in Andrew Kevin Walker to revise them. The studio had hoped to have the same people involved in the sequels as in the first film, with Fincher directing and Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara starring, but scheduling has been difficult. On 4 November 2015, it was announced that an adaptation of The Girl in the Spider's Web was being considered and that Craig and Mara would not be reprising their roles.
In October 2011, DC Comics announced that its Vertigo imprint had acquired the rights to the series, and would be adapted each novel into two graphic novels. The graphic novels are adapted by Scottish crime novelist Denise Mina, with art by Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Book 1, released on November 13, 2012.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Book 2, released on May 7, 2013.
- The Girl Who Played with Fire, released on June 3, 2014.
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, released on July 28, 2015.
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- The Stieg Larsson Trilogy from UK publisher Quercus
- The official Millennium site from Swedish publisher Norstedts Förlag