Wedding Worries (Bröllopsbesvär)

Wedding Worries (Bröllopsbesvär, 1949). In translation by Paul Norlén. David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston (forthcoming).

In Dagerman's last novel, by many considered his best, he returns to the setting and the people of his childhood farm. The novel takes place during the day, and night, when the young daughter on the farm marries the considerably older village butcher. In a burlesque and often comical style, reminiscent of Faulkner, Dagerman explores the eternal themes of existential loneliness and a longing for connection through the many characters. It is also here that he, for himself, stakes out a different path toward inner freedom.

Dagerman conceived the story while on his way back to Sweden from Australia, via Honolulu and San Francisco, after a failed attempt to write a book about war refugees.

"It was only a spider,"  Ville says defiantly. "But it had spun a thread that glistened in the sun, and it continued spinning. I had never seen anything as beautiful."

"Then you should have seen Gilda with Rita Hayworth," Nisse cuts in. "Or the last issue of Parisien."

"… The spider just kept on spinning.  It saved my life. I lay in the water and looked at the fir trees, and it dawned on me that, alone in the forest by day, nobody would want to kill themselves."

—Stig Dagerman, Wedding Worries

About Wedding Worries

Book cover of Bröllopsbesvär. Bröllopsbesvär, Norstedts.

"Today, Dagerman's last novel, Wedding Worries, emerges as his masterpiece thereby making his early death all the more tragic. He was still on the rise."

—Olof Lagercrantz, postscript to Stig Dagerman biography, 1985

"I slowly read Wedding Worries and re-experience that which fascinates me in Dagerman's other writings: The Snake, A Burnt Child or the strange Thousand Years with God. … The same thing that fascinated me when I read, for the first time Joyce's Ulysses, Faulkner's Light in August, or Celine's Journey To the End of the Night: I had the sensation of being submerged by a wave as it passes over me, still full of all that power that first launched it from the other side of the horizon."

—JMG Le Clézio, Review of "Ennuis de noce", Le Monde, 1982 (translation by Lo Dagerman)

"In all his novels, Dagerman explores possible paths from a sense of imprisonment to freedom. So also in Wedding Worries, but here he uses somewhat new means. The characters of the novel, all following their own paths, arrive, more or less directly, at the same conclusion: to accept what is given in the here and now. … The novel disqualifies a dream of freedom that means an escape from the lived life, or in the extension, from the self. Seen as the dream of the still unaware individual, its freedom is only illusory. … The key to liberty, and the insight of the awakened individual, becomes the motto of the novel: to accept what is. … A dream of going away or a hope for a life somewhere else only gets in the way. There is only the here and now."

—Lotta Lotass, Freedom Conveyed – Studies in Stig Dagerman's Writing, pp. 142-143 (translation by Lo Dagerman)

Film

Screenshot from Bröllopsbesvär.

Bröllopsbesvär. Feature film, B/W, Sweden, 1964. Directed by Åke Falck. Starring Christina Schollin and Jarl Kulle.

Movie poster for Bröllopsbesvär.

Theater

Bröllopsbesvär. Stig Larsson, Adaptation. Johan Wahlström, Director. Göteborgs Stadsteater, Göteborg, Sweden, 2007.

Wedding ceremony. Woman resting her head on a man's shoulder. Scenes from the 2007 production of Bröllopsbesvär in Göteborg.

Editions and Translations

  • Swedish: Bröllopsbesvär. 1949, 1954, 1962, 1964, 1970, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1991, 2014 (Norstedts)
  • Czech: Starosti se svatbou. 1963 (Mladá Fronta)
  • Danish: Bryllopsbesvær. 1966 (S.Vendel Kær)
  • French: Ennuis de noce. 1982, 1990, 2016 (Maurice Nadeau)
  • German: Schwedische Hochzeitsnacht. 1965, 1984 (Limes Verlag); 1974, 1984 (Verlag Volk und Welt); 1986 (Piper)
  • Lithuanian: Vestuvių naktis. 1994 (Alma littera)
  • Polish: Weselne kłopoty. 1978 (Posnan)
  • Portugese: As sete pragas do casamento. 1995 (Relógio d’Água)