The Serious Game

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The Serious Game
First English-language edition
AuthorHjalmar Söderberg
Original titleDen allvarsamma leken
TranslatorEva Claeson
PublisherAlbert Bonniers förlag (Swedish)
Marion Boyars (English)
Publication date
Published in English

The Serious Game (Swedish: Den allvarsamma leken) is a 1912 novel by Hjalmar Söderberg. It tells the story of a man and a woman who fall in love when young, and remain in love, but stay separated and marry others.

Three Swedish films based on the book have been produced: Den allvarsamma leken (1945), Games of Love and Loneliness (1977) and A Serious Game (2016).


Sweden at the turn of the previous century. Arvid, an ambitious and well-educated young man, meets Lydia, the daughter of a landscape painter, during an idyllic summer vacation and falls in love. Lydia, however, has other suitors, and Arvid is frightened of being tied down by his emotions. Trapped inside loveless marriages of convenience, they struggle in later years to rekindle the promise of their romance with bitter and tragic results.


The book was reviewed in Publishers Weekly in 2002: "Söderberg manifests a keen painterly eye for settings: Arvid and Lydia's affair plays out against a backdrop of serene Stockholm parks, crowded newspaper offices full of workaholic journalists and the spare bedrooms where their trysts take place—and in each locale, the details offered are just enough to create a world of sensations. Feminist readers may take umbrage at the male domination of Arvid's milieu—women get little or no air time, although they would seem to determine the course of the novel. Söderberg creates psychological suspense worthy of Dostoyevski, as Arvid's internal moral conflicts achieve the gravity of physical pain."[1]

In Popular Culture[edit]

In an HBO produced supernatural drama series True Blood (inspired by the books The Southern Vampire Mysteries aka The Sookie Stackhouse Novels), in the ending episode 10 (titled Radioactive) of the 6th season one of the main characters — a thousand years old vampireEric Northman (played by a Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård) is reading Den allvarsamma leken (in its original language), while sunbathing naked on top of a snowy mountain when a brief ability to “walk under sun” for the vampires suddenly vanishes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff writer (February 4, 2002). "Fiction Review: The Serious Game by Hjalmar Soderberg". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2012-03-20.