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Superhuman Pippi

Ur-Pippi (original script)
Forfatter: Astrid Lindgren
Forlag: Cappelen Damm (2007)
The original Pippi Longstocking script was rejected by Bonniers in 1944, but is now published as a separate book.


[children's story] In a dinner party at Olof Lagercrantz one spring day in 1966, publisher manager Gerard Bonnier boasted that it was he himself who had rejected the Pippi script that in 1944 came to Bonnier's Children's Library. The unknown and slightly nervous table lady who got the pleasure of hearing about this driving force was Ulla Lundquist, who in 1979 was going to take her doctorate on a dissertation on Pippi Longstocking. When Lundquist decided in the first half of the 1970 century for this project, she got unexpected help from Astrid Lindgren herself: The original typewritten script was intact and on loan!

In the mid-1970s, Lindquist contacted Gerard Bonnier again. But then the memory of Lagercrantz's dinner party was erased. "Well, it was not he himself who hastened the refusal, no, it must have been someone in the children's book editorial office." Honor the one who should be honored!

Will to power

Now the original script has finally been released, with Lundquist's supplementary comments. This original Pippi screenplay was written before Astrid Lindgren's debut Britt-Mari lightens her heart (1944). It was sent to Bonnier on April 27, 1944, with an enclosed letter beginning as follows: Pippi Longstocking is, as you will find, if you make it difficult to read the script, a little Uebermensch in the shape of a child, moved into an ordinary environment. Thanks to her supernatural powers and other circumstances, she is completely independent of all adults and lives her life exactly as it amuses her. In her clashes with big people, she always keeps the last word.
At Bertrand Russell (Nurturing for life, p. 85) I read that the foremost instinctive trait in childhood is the desire to become an adult or perhaps more just the will to power, and that the normal child in the imagination depends on notions, which mean will to power. ”

A children's book star who receives such a birth certificate cannot, of course, be stopped by opportunistic publishing managers or correct children's book editors.
On August 9, Lindgren murmured at the publisher: "Hereby I kindly find out how long it really takes to get a book rejected at Edert v. Publisher." On September 20, she received a rejection full of standard phrases (the publication plan for both 1945 and 1946 had already been established, "and to bind us already for 1947, we do not want that").

Worse Pippi

In the end, Lindgren edited the script, sent it to Rabén & Sjögren's children's book prize competition, won the first prize, and had the book published the following year.

Although the framework and stories are largely the same, there is a great difference in style and tone Ur Pippi, as Rabén & Sjögrens today calls the original script, and the printed version that took Swedish children by storm in 1945. Not least, the Pippi character himself was significantly changed. Ur-Pippi is much more bardus than the Pippi who saw the light of day. Ur-Pippi never apologizes and shows less emotion. She is rougher in the mouth. She also yells more than the "official" Pippi. And she plays lots of nonsense verses, and in many ways is a clown.

Ur-Pippi greets Tommy and Annika in this way: "Dear little chubby kids!", And immediately establishes a difference and distance between them and the "chubby" (stray) kids. The narrator does the same: "Tommy and Annika, the weird little kids, obviously went to school". In the printed version, the inserted side sentence is gone. In addition, Pippi is made more human by hearing about her father, the negro king, and the mother who is an angel in heaven. After all, she has parents, even if they are not with her.

A number of juicy and funny episodes unfortunately disappeared, but Pippi became kinder, more caring and more generous.

Satirical and violent

Ur-Pippi is more certain more übermensch: We get to know less about her background, she distances herself from everyone else, and she is satirical and more violent – even towards adults! After the episode in the second chapter, where the nasty Ove (Bengt in the Norwegian version) is thrown into a tree, Ove's father (a soulmate of Harry Potter's uncle) comes and tries to restore his son's honor by giving Pippi a powerful slap.

But Pippi just looks at him calmly before she resolutely grabs his very big nose; and then she resolutely walks with Ove's father in tow in the sunshine: «Big strong uncles should not beat small defenseless girls. If you feel that you have to fight, you can touch and dust Ove from time to time. He needs it ", she says reassuringly. And finally: "Thank you for a delightful walk… We do it again on Thursday, do not you think?"

Pippi long stocking
1968 Recording of the movie about Pippi Longstocking from the books by Astrid Lindgren. Photo: Aage Storløkken / Aktual / Scanpix

This rebellious and arrogant Pippi in Lindgren's edited version becomes less violent, more sensitive, and more filled with natural childish innocence. With the paradoxical result that the Pippi we know may actually seem more superior than the spiteful and rhetorical Ur-Pippi. The reactions did not happen anyway: In a major attack on Pippi Longstocking in Aftonbladet on August 18, 1946, pedagogy professor John Landquist wrote: "No normal child eats a whole cake on a coffee rope or walks barefoot on powdered sugar… But both are reminiscent of an insane person's imagination or morbid obsessions." It was just as well that he could not read the original script.

style Changes

The revised and released Pippi book also contains many stylistic changes, and most of these must be said to be improvements: storytelling and rhythm are more adapted to action, and difficult abstract nouns are replaced by verbal constructions. Pippi's language is moderated from a twisty, slightly chancellorous, ironic style, to a much more direct and child-friendly language: Pippi. "

If Ur Pippi had been released, it is a matter of whether she would have been equally loved by the world's children. Some juicy and funny episodes unfortunately disappeared, but Pippi became kinder, more thoughtful and more generous.

Kjetil Korslund
Kjetil Korslund
Historian of ideas and critic.

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