By Berit Åström, Katarina Gregersdotter, Tanya Horeck
Targeting the sexualized violence of Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium trilogy – together with the novels, Swedish movie diversifications, and Hollywood blockbusters – this selection of essays places Larsson's paintings into discussion with Scandinavian and Anglophone crime novels by means of writers together with Jo Nesbø, Håkan Nesser, Mo Hayder and Val McDermid.
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Extra info for Rape in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and Beyond: Contemporary Scandinavian and Anglophone Crime Fiction
This separation of crime from social causes is tightly bound up in a neoconservative view of morality and the role of the state. Though serial murder has been the stuff of popular entertainment since at least the days of Elizabethan pamphlets recounting notorious crimes (Marshburn and Velie 1973), the phrase ‘serial killer’ only entered common usage in the post-Watergate era, when the Reagan administration was trying to restore funding and political authority to institutions of law enforcement after public criticism had led to legislation that restricted police practices.
Later, as a mental patient under the care of Dr Peter Teleborian, having been sectioned for her attempt at stopping her father’s brutality. Finally, the serious illness of her first guardian, Holger Palmgren, places her in further jeopardy when she is appointed a new guardian, Nils Bjurman. Bjurman sexually abuses Salander, and when she attempts blackmail to protect herself it backfires, leading to one of the most talked about rape scenes in contemporary crime fiction (2008: 224). Although the scene seemingly places her in the role of victim, Salander refuses to passively accept what has happened and, returning to Bjurman’s abode in order to set another trap, she rapes him and leaves him scarred for life: ‘Bjurman felt cold terror piercing his chest and lost his composure.
While many have hailed Lisbeth Salander as a new feminist heroine for the twenty-first century, others, such as Melanie Newman, have ‘difficulty squaring Larsson’s proclaimed distress at misogyny with his explicit descriptions of sexual violence, his breast-obsessed heroine and babe-magnet hero’ (2009). Regardless of where one stands in relation to this debate about Lisbeth Salander, it is extraordinary the extent to which Larsson makes the question of rape and the sexual abuse of women the focus of his blockbuster trilogy.