The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

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The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
The The Wonderful Adventures of Nils - cover by Mary Hamilton Frye.jpg
Cover art by Mary Hamilton Frye (1936)
AuthorSelma Lagerlöf
Original titleNils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige
CountrySweden
LanguageSwedish
GenreNovella
Parable
Social criticism
Morality tale
Media typePrint

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (orig. Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige; literally Nils Holgersson's wonderful journey across Sweden) is a work of fiction by the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf, the first women to receive Nobel Prize in literature to make the study Sweden geography fun for children. It was originally published in two books, 1906 and 1907, and was first published in English as The Wonderful Adventures of Nils in 1907 and Further Adventures of Nils in 1911. The two parts are usually published together, in English as The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, but that name may also refer to the first part alone.

Selma Lagerlöf, like many leading Swedish intellectuals of her time, was an advocate of Swedish spelling reform. When published in 1906, this book was one of the first to adopt the new spelling mandated by a government resolution on April 7, 1906 (see Svenska Akademiens Ordlista).

Origin[edit]

The background for publication was a commission from the National Teachers Association in 1902 to write a geography reader for the public schools. "She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarizing herself with animal and bird life. She has sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story." (From translator Velma Swanston Howard's introduction.)

Plot introduction[edit]

The book is about a young lad, Nils Holgersson, whose "chief delight was to eat and sleep, and after that he liked best to make mischief". He takes great delight in hurting the animals in his family farm. Nils captures a tomte in a net while his family are at church and have left him home to memorize chapters from the Bible. The tomte proposes to Nils that if Nils frees him, the tomte will give him a huge gold coin. Nils rejects the offer and the tomte turns Nils into a tomte, which leaves him shrunken and able to talk with animals, who are thrilled to see the boy reduced to their size and are angry and hungry for revenge. While this is happening, wild geese are flying over the farm on one of their migrations, and Martin, the farm's white goose attempts to join the wild ones. In an attempt to salvage something before his family returns, Nils holds on to Martin's neck as he successfully takes off and joins the wild birds.

The wild geese, who are not pleased at all to be joined by a boy and a domestic goose, eventually take them on an adventurous trip across all the historical provinces of Sweden observing in passing their natural characteristics and economic resources. At the same time the characters and situations he encounters make him a man: the domestic goose needs to prove his ability to fly like the experienced wild geese, and Nils needs to prove to the geese that he would be a useful companion, despite their initial misgivings. During the trip, Nils learns that if he proves he has changed for the better, the tomte might be disposed to change him back to his normal size.

The book also includes various subplots, concerning people and animals whose lives are touched in one way or another by Nils and the wild geese. For example, one chapter centers on a provincial man who feels lonely and alienated in the capital Stockholm, is befriended by a nice old gentleman who tells him (and the reader) about the city's history - and only later finds that it was none other than the King of Sweden, walking incognito in the park.

The book was criticized for the fact that the goose and boy don't make any stop in the province Halland. In chapter 53 they fly over Halland on the way back to Scania, but they aren't impressed by the sight and they don't stop. However, such a chapter has been added to some translations of the book. In depictions Nils is usually wearing a red cap, although this is erroneous as he is described in the original Swedish edition as wearing a white cap.[1]

Chapters and itinerary[edit]

This section follows the English-language translation by Velma Swanston Howard, originally published in 1907 and 1911 as The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and Further Adventures of Nils. The Howard text is that of many later publications that contain the original illustrations, new illustrations, or none at all.

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils[edit]

Howard's first volume contains 21 chapters. Swedish-language chapter titles listed here are identical to those of the 21 chapters in the original volume one (1906).[2]

Chapter Title Places Historical provinces
1 The Boy ("Pojken")[3] Västra Vemmenhög, around seven kilometres south (and today part) of Skurup Scania
2 Akka from Kebnekaise ("Akka från Kebnekajse")[4] Vombsjön Scania
3 The Wonderful Journey of Nils ("Vildfågelsliv")[5] Vittskövle Castle, Övedskloster Manor Scania
4 Glimminge Castle ("Glimmingehus")[6] Glimmingehus Scania
5 The Great Crane Dance on Kullaberg ("Den stora trandansen på Kullaberget")[7] Kullaberg Scania
6 In Rainy Weather ("I regnväder")[8]   Blekinge
7 The Staircase with the Three Steps ("Trappan med de tre trappstegen")[9] Blekinge archipelago Blekinge
8 By Ronneby River ("Vid Ronneby Å")[10] Ronneby Blekinge
9 Karlskrona ("Karlskrona")[11] Karlskrona Blekinge
10 The Trip to Öland ("Resa till Öland")[12] Kalmar Strait between Öland and Småland
11 Öland's Southern Point ("Ölands södra udde")[13] Southern tip of Öland, Ottenby Öland
12 The Big Butterfly ("Den stora fjärilen")[14] Öland, Stora Alvaret Öland
13 Little Karl's Island ("Lilla Karlsö")[15] Lilla Karlsö Gotland
14 Two Cities ("Två städer")[16] Vineta, Visby Gotland
15 The Legend of Småland ("Sagan om Småland")[17] Tjust Småland
16 The Crows ("Kråkorna")[18] Sunnerbo härad Småland
17 The Old Peasant Woman ("Den gamla bondkvinnan")[19]   Småland
18 From Taberg to Huskvarna ("Från Taberg till Huskvarna")[20] Taberg, Jönköping, Huskvarna Småland
19 The Big Bird Lake ("Den stora fågelsjön")[21] Tåkern, Omberg Östergötland
20 Ulvåsa-Lady ("Spådomen")[22] Tåkern, Omberg, Vadstena Abbey, Motala, Finspång, Norrköping Östergötland
21 Vadmalsvåden ("The Homespun Cloth")[23]   Östergötland

Further Adventures of Nils[edit]

Howard's second volume contains 22 chapters numbered 1 to 22, where the original volume two (1907) contains 34 chapters numbered 22 to 55. Swedish-language chapter titles listed here are identical to those of 22 among the 34 original chapters. Chapter titles 6 to 18 match original chapter titles 36 to 48.[24]

Howard cut some chapters entirely and abridged others. Some provinces are not featured in the Howard translation, including Dalarna, which is visited in four original chapters (29 to 32).[24]

Chapter Title Places Historical provinces
1 The Story of Karr and Grayskin ("Karrs och Gråfälls saga")[25] Kolmården Östergötland, Södermanland
2 The Wind Witch ("I Närke")[26] Örebro Närke
3 The Breaking Up Of The Ice ("Islossningen")[27] Hjälmaren Närke
4 Thumbietot and the Bears ("Järnverket")[28]   Västmanland
5 The Flood ("Översvämmningen")[29] Mälaren Uppland
6 Dunfin ("Dunfin")[30] Mälaren, Stockholm archipelago Uppland
7 Stockholm ("Stockholm")[31] Stockholm, Skansen Uppland
8 Gorgo, the Eagle ("Gorgo, örnen")[32]    
9 On Over Gästrikland ("Fram över Gästrikland")[33]   Gästrikland
10 A Day in Hälsingland ("En dag i Hälsingland")[34] Delsbo Hälsingland
11 In Medelpad ("I Medelpad")[35] Sundsvall, Alnön island Medelpad
12 A Morning in Ångermanland ("En morgon i Ångermanland")[36]   Ångermanland
13 Westbottom and Lapland ("Västerbotten och Lappland")[37]   Västerbotten, Lapland (Sweden)
14 Osa, the Goose Girl, and Little Mats ("Åsa gåsapiga och lille MatsOsa, the Goose Girl, and Little Mats")[38] Malmberget Lapland
15 With the Laplanders ("Hos lapparna")[39] Kiruna Municipality Lapland, Sápmi
16 Homeward Bound ("Mot söder! Mot söder!")[40] Östersund Jämtland
17 Legends from Härjedalen ("Sägner från Härjedalen")[41] Sonfjället National Park Härjedalen
18 Vermland and Dalsland ("Värmland och Dalsland")[42] Klarälven, Fryken Värmland, Dalsland
19 The Treasure on the Island ("Skatten på skäret")[43] Fjällbacka, Väderöarna Bohuslän
20 The Journey to Vemmenhög ("Resa till Vemmenhög")[44] Falköping, Bosjökloster, Ringsjön Halland, Scania
21 Home at Last ("Hos Holger Nilssons")[45]   Scania
22 The Parting with the Wild Geese ("Avsked från vildgässen")[46] Smygehuk Scania

Print editions[edit]

  • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, Illustrated by Harold Heartt Foley. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1907.
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, translated by Velma Swanston Howard. Illustrated by Mary Hamilton Frye. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913.
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, Illustrated by H. Baumhauer. J.M. Dent and Sons, 1950.

Film adaptations[edit]

1955 Soviet animation[edit]

A Soviet traditionally animated feature film called The Enchanted Boy (Russian: Заколдо́ванный ма́льчик, Zakoldovannyy Malchik) was released in 1955. It was directed by Vladimir Polkovnikov and Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya and produced at the Soyuzmultfilm studio in Moscow.

1962 Swedish live action[edit]

Adventures of Nils Holgersson (Nils Holgerssons underbara resa) was released in 1962. It was shot primarily from helicopters, simplifying and downplaying the drama of the plot. It was directed by Kenne Fant.

1980 Japanese animation[edit]

An anime adaptation (ニルスのふしぎな旅 Nirusu no Fushigi na Tabi) consisting of fifty-two 25-minute episodes was broadcast on NHK from January 8, 1980—March 17, 1981. The anime was also broadcast:

  • Albania
  • in the Arab World (as "مغامرات نيلز" Nils' Adventures)
  • Belgium
  • Canada (in French)
  • (Mainland) China
  • Czech Republic (as "Nils Holgersson")
  • Finland (as "Peukaloisen retket", not dubbed in Finnish but simply narrated over the German dub, also released in DVD)
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece (as "Το θαυμαστό ταξίδι του Νίλς Χόλγκερσον" - "The wondrous journey of Nils Holgersson")
  • Hong Kong (dubbed into Cantonese)
  • Hungary (as "Nils Holgersson csodálatos utazása a vadludakkal"("The Wonderful Journey of Nils Holgersson with the Wild Geese"))
  • Iceland (as "Nilli Hólmgeirsson")
  • Iran
  • Israel (as "נילס הולגרסון")
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland (as "Nils and the wild geese")
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia (as "Nils Holgerson" with one s)
  • South Africa (Translated to Afrikaans as "Nils Holgerson")
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey (as "Uçan Kaz" ("The Flying Goose"))

In some countries it was cut to allow for commercials. The anime was the very first production by Studio Pierrot (Mamoru Oshii was a director on the series). The anime was mostly fairly true to the original, apart from the appearance of Nils' pet hamster, and the greater role allowed to the fox Smirre.

In Germany, the animated series episodes were also combined into one full feature animated movie (~ 1h 22min in length) in 1981; the same release has also been dubbed and released in Estonia on DVD & VHS and in Greece on DVD. In Germany, the anime was also adapted into a comic book series, with the drawings made by the Spanish Studio Interpubli, and the German Atelier Roche.

2011 Swedish/German two-parter[edit]

German TV broadcaster ARD premiered a live-action two-part adaptation starring Justus Kammerer as Nils and directed by Dirk Regel on Christmas 2011.[47] Its total running time is 230 minutes. This version uses a mix of real animals, puppets, and CGI for the geese and other animals.[48]

2017 French Studio 100 3D CGI Adaptation[edit]

In 2017, a 3D CGI-based TV Series adaptation was released by French Studio 100 Animation.[49] The release consists of 52 episodes, 13 minutes each.

Israeli version[edit]

In the 1960s the Israeli children's weekly "Etz'beoni" (אצבעוני) run a long lasting Hebrew comic strip version, loosely based on the Swedish original, where the protagonist's name was changed to "Gil" (גיל) and the location transferred to the Israeli countryside.[50]

On June 4, 2019, the sports section of Yediot Aharonot depicted the footballer Maor Buzaglo, who repeatedly moves from one club to another, as Nils riding a wild goose[51]

Swedish culture[edit]

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is so well known in Swedish culture that a picture of Nils Holgersson, on the back of a goose flying over the plains of Scania, was printed on the reverse side of the Swedish 20 krona banknote until new bills came in use in 2015.[52]

Nils is also depicted in the logo of the digital map company Tele Atlas.

The sights Nils sees as he and his goose roam the provinces of Sweden are depicted in a series of Christmas plates produced by Rörstrand Pottery. The series began in 1970 and continued until 1999, the plates illustrate the topography, architecture, industry, and wildlife of Sweden.

Influence on later fantasy[edit]

Lev Grossman's fantasy novel The Magicians includes numerous allusions to earlier works such as The Narnia Series and the Harry Potter books. The influence of Nils Holgersen is evident in a key episode where a class of students nearing graduation from a School of Magic are set a major test: to be transformed into wild geese and undertake an epic flight, all the way from Upper New York State to Antarctica.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Chapter IX. Karlskrona
  2. ^ The novel article "Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige" at Swedish Wikipedia cites Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige. Första bandet. (1907), chapter by chapter as pp. 9–237. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  3. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Boy". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 3–23.
  4. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Akka from Kebnekaise". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 24–44.
  5. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Wonderful Journey of Nils". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 45–68.
  6. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Glimminge Castle". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 69–84.
  7. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Great Crane Dance on Kullaberg". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 85–96.
  8. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "In Rainy Weather". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 97–104.
  9. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Staircase with the Three Steps". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 105–109.
  10. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "By Ronneby River". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 110–121.
  11. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Karlskrona". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 122–132.
  12. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Trip to Öland". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 133–138.
  13. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Öland's Southern Point". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 139–148.
  14. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Big Butterfly". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 149–153.
  15. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Little Karl's Island". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 154–168.
  16. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Two Cities". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 169–183.
  17. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Legend of Småland". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 184–190.
  18. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Crows". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 191–212.
  19. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Old Peasant Woman". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 213–225.
  20. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "From Taberg to Huskvarna". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 226–230.
  21. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "The Big Bird Lake". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 231–249.
  22. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Ulvåsa-Lady". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 250–256.
  23. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1936). "Ulvåsa-Lady". The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. pp. 257–261.
  24. ^ a b "Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige" at Swedish Wikipedia cites Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige. Andra bandet. (1907), chapter by chapter as pp. 1–486. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  25. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Story of Karr and Grayskin". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 3–49.
  26. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Wind Witch". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 50–71.
  27. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Breaking Up Of The Ice". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 72–78.
  28. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Thumbietot and the Bears". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 79–100.
  29. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Flood". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 101–115.
  30. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Dunfin". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 116–132.
  31. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Stockholm". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 133–153.
  32. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Gorgo, the Eagle". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 154–170.
  33. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "On Over Gästrikland". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 171–180.
  34. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "A Day in Hälsingland". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 181–200.
  35. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "In Medelpad". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 201–209.
  36. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "A Morning in Ångermanland". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 210–220.
  37. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Westbottom and Lapland". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 221–240.
  38. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Osa, the Goose Girl, and Little Mats". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 241–252.
  39. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "With the Laplanders". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 253–266.
  40. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Homeward Bound". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 267–272.
  41. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Legends from Härjedalen". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 273–287.
  42. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Vermland and Dalsland". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 288–304.
  43. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Treasure on the Island". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 305–315.
  44. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Journey to Vemmenhög". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 316–319.
  45. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "Home at Last". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 320–335.
  46. ^ Lagerlöf, Selma (1922). "The Parting with the Wild Geese". Further Adventures of Nils. Translated by Swanston Howard, Velma. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. pp. 336–339.
  47. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125222/
  48. ^ http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/tv/0,1518,805578,00.html
  49. ^ Nils, Studio100animation.net
  50. ^ March 30, 2017 online Hebrew review by Hadar Ben Yehuda, including many of the Israeli version's drawings [1]
  51. ^ Nadav Zanzifer,"Maor Buzaglo seeks a new football home" (in Hebrew), Yediot Aharonot, June 4, 2019 - illustration in online article [2] [3]
  52. ^ Swedish 20 krona banknote.

External links[edit]