Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy Isn’t a Trilogy?

Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy may have fourth installment

So news has broken that Stieg Larsson, famed Swedish author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest—a trilogy that’s sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and continues to sell over 50,000 copies daily in the States—was working on a fourth novel when he died.

This is huge news, if it’s indeed true, considering the rampant popularity of the series, and I imagine it’s probably causing publishers stress. Word is that Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s longtime partner who helped write the novels, isn’t talking about the series or the whereabouts of the fourth installment, and only she and one friend know about the unfinished story, which reportedly takes place in northern Canada. With the third installment having come out in May, it would be best to see the fourth release in the not too distant future, of course, but there are no signs thus far that anyone is working on that.

Apparently, Larsson was 320 pages into the fourth installment, with plans to go to about 440 pages. The beginning and end were done, but the middle needs to be fleshed out. For me, there’s something about someone else working on the book that makes it less attractive. Sure, it’s been done tons of times before, but I tend not to read estate-written novels. There’s a loss of authenticity, no matter how closely an author manages to capture the original author’s voice. Just knowing that Larsson didn’t write the entire thing will probably prevent me from reading the fourth book. Admittedly, I still have to read the first three, but I have them, and will get to them as soon as I can.

The issue in this instance is Swedish law: since partners can’t inherit from each other unless they’re married or it’s stipulated in a will, everything goes to the next of kin. According to a Swedish friend of mine, many Swedish couples don’t marry, and Larsson and Gabrielsson were no different. Thus, Gabrielsson, who worked closely with Larsson on the Millennium books, is fighting over rights with Larsson’s family. Until she is granted some sort of privilege, I imagine she will stick to her refusal to release the fourth novel, which she currently says she does not have, in spite of earlier admitting she possessed the laptop with the novel on it.

What do you think of all this? If a fourth installment is finally released, will you read it? How important is it to you that it be written by the original author? Is it totally important, or does it make a difference to you that the majority of the novel is reportedly finished?

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One comment

  1. Well, this isn’t really breaking news. The existence of a fourth unfinished manuscript was first reported almost two years ago. From where did you source the material for this article?

    As for whether it would bother me that the fourth book in the series is partially written by someone else, I don’t think it would. Larsson, for all his fame, is not primarily known for his unique voice. He is not a Woolf. His books are frankly and straightforwardly plot-driven, whereas e.g. Woolf’s books hardly have a plot at all, but are strictly voice. I don’t think most of his fans are overly concerned about “voice”.

    Add to that the fact that the majority of those making up the statistics above are actually not even reading it in the language in which it was written, makes the situation even more blurred. You are already reading, not Larsson’s words, but the words of whatever translator has undertaken the commission to turn these books into English. Having read a sufficient number of books both in the original Swedish and in their English translation I can vouch for the fact that whatever voice there was in the original is almost always lost in the translation.

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