Monday, May 18, 2009

The Dragon’s Partner Speaks

As you probably know, The Rap Sheet has featured many pieces about the global phenomenon that is Stieg Larsson’s award-winning “Millennium Trilogy.” However, in his native Sweden there is another sort of related story brewing, which the London Times just picked up on this last Sunday:
Relatives of Stieg Larsson, the bestselling Swedish novelist whose posthumous international appeal has made him the toast of the publishing industry, are locked in a bitter dispute over an inheritance worth millions and a laptop computer.

The legal battle between Larsson’s girlfriend and his father and brother could have been plucked from the pages of his three crime novels and is stirring just as much passion in Sweden, where at least one in three people has read them.

For months the nation’s attention has been focused on the plight of Eva Gabrielsson, a 54-year-old architectural historian. She lived with Larsson for 30 years until his death in 2004 but has inherited none of the estimated £10m he has earned since because they were not married.

“I think it’s a great injustice,” Gabrielsson said last week. “It would have been beyond Stieg’s worst nightmares to know that someone other than me was handling the rights to his books and to know that the money we planned to invest is gone.”
The article goes on to explain the extent of Gabrielsson’s stake in Larsson’s authorial success:
He met Gabrielsson at a rally against the Vietnam War in 1972. They moved in together two years later. For many years Gabrielsson supported Larsson, who earned little as a journalist. She said last week that Larsson’s legacy was being treated as though it were “a plot of farmland or a herd of sheep”.

Instead, the rights to his books were, she said, intellectual property that should not be “left to people who never took part in their development”.

A statement from the Larssons claimed that Gabrielsson was “blocked in her anger” and accused her of ignoring invitations to take part in important decisions concerning the Larsson oeuvre.

“We are inundated with requests for permission to make plays and cartoon strips out of Millennium,” they said. “Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt would like to buy the rights for a remake of the film. We want her opinion.”
You can read the full Times article here.

Larsson’s name and accomplishments were mentioned frequently during CrimeFest in Bristol this last weekend, as the English translator of his novels, “Reg Keeland” (aka Steven T. Murray) was a guest at that convention. In addition, the audio version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (read by Martin Wenner) was joint winner of the Best Abridged Crime Audiobook.

A Web site has been set-up to support Eva Gabrielsson.

READ MORE:The Woman Who Inherits Nothing,” by Sarah Weinman (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind).


Linda L. Richards said...

This sounds to me like there might be more here than we're seeing. In most modern countries -- and certainly Sweden is one of those -- "marriage" is defined less by paper and blessings of a person sporting the correct collar and more by action. Based on the facts as presented, one would think she had legal recourse. But that doesn't seem to be an option, so maybe there's more here than meets the eye?

Britt said...

There have been similar innuendos here in Sweden and I am getting quite tired of them. The Swedish law is quite clear when it comes to common law marriages – the right to inherit is limited to personal property i.e. not the flat or house itself but only the household effects. Unfortunately, there is a vast number of Swedes that live together that do not realize this, and Stieg was one of them.
You might think that Stieg was quite naive or negligent not to write a will, and this is apparently true. My own interpretation is that he didn’t expect to die so soon after writing the contract with the publishing company (less than 9 months) neither could he foresee how his blood relatives would act. The original and the correct title of the first novel is “Men who hate women”. Stieg refused to budge when the Swedish publishers tried to convince him to change it to something less provocative in the fear that the novel wouldn’t sell with a title like that. The title had a personal meaning to him and he had no patience with men who used or abused women because they had the physical or legal power to do it. The way he describes the experiences of Lisbeth Salander should be sufficient for anyone to realize this.

/Britt Gabrielsson