(1900 - 1976)
One of the few working-class novelists to bring not only new themes
and points of view to Swedish literature but also to experiment with
new forms and techniques of the most advanced kind. With Harry Edmund
Martinson he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1974.
After a grim boyhood of hard labour in his home region near the Arctic
Circle, Johnson, as a youth of 20 with practically no schooling, made
his way south into war-devastated western Europe. He was never quite
happy on his visits home because of Sweden's readiness to ignore the
misery at its borders. His early novels, in which the influence of Proust,
Gide, and Joyce can be discerned, are mainly concerned with man's frustration.
In Bobinack (1932), an expose of the machinations of modern capitalism,
Regn i gryningen (1933; "Rain at Daybreak"), an attack on
modern office drudgery and its effects, and Romanen om Olof, 4 vol.
(1934-37), which tells of his experiences as a logger in the sub-Arctic,
he begins to seek out the causes for that frustration. During World
War II and immediately preceding it, Johnson's novels took the form
of intense protest against totalitarian terror and sharp attacks against
neutralism. Strandernas svall (1946; Return to Ithaca, 1952) and Hans
nades tid (1960; The Days of His Grace) have been translated into many
Gavin Orton, Eyvind Johnson (1972), introduces Johnson's life and works.