Lars Gustafsson

Lars Gustafsson was born May 17, 1936, in Väteras, Sweden. He earned the equivalent of an American doctorate at the University of Uppsala in 1962. He has published novels, stories, poems, drama, and literary criticism, and was the editor of Sweden’s leading literary magazine Bonnier Litterära Magasin from 1962–1972. He presently teaches in his adopted state of Texas, at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Elegies And Other Poems

Lars Gustafsson is one of Sweden’s leading and most prolific men of letters––a poet, philosopher, and fiction writer with dozens of books to his credit since his literary debut, at the age of twenty, in 1956. Although known in the English-speaking world primarily for his novels and short fiction, Gustafsson is nevertheless one of the most frequently translated of contemporary Swedish poets. Elegies and Other Poems is a companion volume to The Stillness of the World Before Bach (New Directions, 1988).…
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The Tale of a Dog

The Tale of a Dog, Lars Gustafsson’s newest novel, is subtitled From the Diaries of a Texan Bankruptcy Judge. The judge in this case is a certain Erwin CaldwelI, the narrator of Gustafsson’s roman noir who leads the reader through a wildly discursive romp that is also a meditation on the abiding presence of evil in the human heart. The year is 1992, and the rivers in and around rain-soaked Austin are flooding their banks.…
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A Tiler’s Afternoon

In A Tiler’s Afternoon, Lars Gustafsson invites us to share a day’s work with Torsten Bergman, an aging, semi-retired tile-layer. On this particular day, Torsten arrives at an empty suburban villa, partially renovated and left unfinished. A master craftsman, he knows what to do and goes about his business, all the while reminiscing over his past, considering what may be left of his future, daydreaming about the mysterious Sophie K., the absent occupant of the villa’s upstairs flat.…
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Bernard Foy’s Third Castling

This imaginative novel suggests the possibility of parallel lives. In part one, Bernard Foy is a young American Rabbi, caught up in a ruthless game of international intrigue and espionage. In Part Two, he is a lecherous 83-year-old poet and member of the Swedish Academy. And, in Part Three he is a brilliant, homicidal juvenile delinquent—perhaps writing about the other two. Or maybe all three Berard Foys are conceived of in a beehive within a skull, lodged deep in a Swedish forest.…
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The Stillness Of The World Before Bach

Lars Gustafsson, one of Sweden’s leading men of letters, is known in the English-speaking world primarily for his novels and short stories, but he is also a distinguished poet with ten discrete volumes published to date in addition to the collective edition of his work for the years 1950-1980. In The Stillness of the World Before Bach: New Selected Poems, readers will recognize in Gustafsson’s verse the playful erudition and imaginative philosophizing that give his fiction its unique appeal.…
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Funeral Music for Freemasons

by Lars Gustafsson

Translated from the Swedish by Yvonne L. Sandstroem

Lars Gustafsson’s Funeral Music for Freemasons (1983), the Swedish writer’s fifth book of fiction to be translated into English, follows the lives of three free spirits of the 1950s, from their aspiring student years in Stockholm to their present realities, so different from their youthful imaginings. Jan Bohman, a brilliant poet become smalltime African merchant––a latterday Rimbaud––is about to be deported from Senegal. Hans (“Hasse" to his friends), an idealistic research physicist, is now a professor at Harvard, leading the protected surburban life of an American academic.…
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Stories of Happy People

What is happiness in an age of packaged needs and liberated desires? Lars Gustafsson’s Stories of Happy People is a collection of ten short fictions that maps the range of contentment, from inner joy to the edges of despair. “Uncle Sven and the Cultural Revolution” finds a politically indifferent Swedish research engineer, in Mao’s China as an industrial consultant, surprised by his own imagination. “The Four Railroads of Iserlohn” lead to poignant, illusionary journeyings.…
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To readers familiar with Lars Gustafsson’s work, the playful philosophizing of Sigsmund will come as no surprise, as he leisurely pulls together seeming fragments into a narrative of 1970s Berlin that at once looks back to Homer, Dante, and the Faust legend and ahead to space warfare and intergalactic travel, childhood memories of Sweden, Marxist-Leninism, sports competition, art, epistemology, daydreams––nothing is excluded from the purview of Gustafsson’s lighthearted humanism. And behind it all broods the restless spirit of the author’s alter ego, the warring king, Sigismund III of Poland (d.…
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The Tennis Players

The scene: Austin, Texas, 1974. A Visiting Professor of Swedish Literature at the University of Texas, quite uncoincidentally named Lars Gustafsson, is teaching a seminar in nineteenth-century European thought and quietly perfecting his game of tennis. His serenity is tested by a sudden series of bizarre events that turns The Tennis Players into a delightful romp through modern-day academe. A previously unknown Memoires d’une chimiste, written by a Polish exile, proves to be a key to August Strindberg’s famed “Inferno Crisis” of 1894-96, when the Swedish master suffered from severe delusions.…
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The Death of a Beekeeper

Fiction by Lars Gustafsson

In the beginning of the winter thaw, Lars Lennart Westin has learned that he has cancer and will not live through spring. Told through the journals of this schoolteacher turned apiarist, The Death of a Beekeeper, is his gentle, courageous, and sometimes comic meditation on living with pain. Westin has refused to surrender the time left him to the impersonation of a hospital, preferring to take his fate upon himself, to continue solitary, reflective life in the Swedish countryside.…
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Lars Gustafsson … loves to play with possibilities and solutions in a manner that is refreshingly affirmative. For those willing to follow his tales to their epiphanic moments, Stories of Happy People offers an intellectual adventure of the highest order.
The New York Times
Lars Gustafsson has an uncompromising vision of the utter complexity of modern life…. he loves to play with possibilities and solutions in a manner that is refreshingly affirmative.
The New York Times Book Review
… has something irresistibly humorous about it – a matter of almost imperceptible incongruities that are the hallmark of Gustafsson’s mature narrative technique.
The Austin Chronicle
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