Lagerkvist, Pär Fabian (pâr fäˈbēän läˈgərkvĭst) [key], 1891–1974, Swedish poet, dramatist, and novelist. Lagerkvist is considered one of the most significant figures of modern Swedish literature. His central concern is the human soul, his main theme the problem of good and evil. With the short novel The Hangman (1933, tr. 1936) and the play The Man Without A Soul (1936, tr. 1944) he became a major spokesman against totalitarianism. Midsummer Dream in a Workhouse (1941, tr. 1953) and Let Man Live (1949, tr. 1951) are experimental dramas. Of his novels, The Dwarf (1944, tr. 1945) deals with human destructiveness, while Barabbas (1950, tr. 1951), The Sibyl (1956, tr. 1958), and The Death of Ahasuerus (1960, tr. 1962) concern the human search for God. Lagerkvist's verse, marked by simple diction and imagery, includes Songs of the Heart (1926) and Evening Land (1953, tr. 1975). He received the 1951 Nobel Prize in Literature.
See his autobiographical Guest of Reality (1925); studies by W. Weathers (1968), R. D. Spector (1973), and L. Sjöberg (1976); bibliography by A. Ryberg (1964).