Karin Boye

(1900-1941 / Sweden)

Biography of Karin Boye

Boye was born in Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden, and moved with her family to Stockholm in 1909. She studied at Uppsala University from 1921 to 1926 and debuted in 1922 with a collection of poems, "Clouds" (Sw. "Moln"). During her time in Uppsala and until 1930, Boye was a member of the socialist group Clarté.

In 1931 Boye, together with Erik Mesterton and Josef Riwkin, founded the poetry magazine Spektrum, introducing T. S. Eliot and the Surrealists to Swedish readers. Together with the critic Erik Mesterton, she translated Eliot's "The Waste Land". She was largely responsible for translating the work of T. S. Eliot into Swedish.

Karin Boye is perhaps most famous for her poems, of which the most well-known ought to be "Yes, of course it hurts" (Sw. "Ja visst gör det ont") and "In motion" (Sw. "I rörelse") from her collections of poems "The Hearths" (Sw. "Härdarna"), 1927, and "For the sake of the tree" (Sw. "För trädets skull"), 1935. She was also a member of the Swedish literary institution Samfundet De Nio (chair number 6) from 1931 until her death in 1941.

Boye's novel "Crisis" (Sw. "Kris") depicts her religious crisis and lesbianism. In her novels "Merit awakens" (Sw. "Merit vaknar") and "Too little" (Sw. "För lite") she explores male and female role-playing.

Outside Sweden, her best-known work is probably the novel "Kallocain". Inspired by her visit to the Soviet Union in 1928 and her visit to Germany during the rise of National Socialism it was a portrayal of a dystopian society in the vein of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley's Brave New World (though written almost a decade before Nineteen Eighty-Four). In the novel, an idealistic scientist named Leo Kall invents Kallocain, a kind of truth serum. The novel was filmed in Sweden 1981 and was the main influence for the movie Equilibrium.

Karin Boye's Works:

Karin Maria Boye (help·info) (October 26, 1900 – April 24, 1941) was a Swedish poet and novelist.


* Astarte, 1931
* Merit vaknar, 1933
* Kris, 1934
* För lite, 1936
* Kallocain, 1940

Collections of poems:

* Moln, 1922
* Gömda land, 1924
* Härdarna, 1927
* För trädets skull, 1935
* De sju dödssynderna, 1941 (not completed, posthumously published)
* Complete Poems in English translation by David McDuff

PoemHunter.com Updates


Candles I saw burning, yes, holy candles on the eternal
Blessed ones walked there in a trembling mystic light,
radiant with God as with the sun the falling drops,
radiant with sleep in worlds where time was not.

Woe is me, my foot is too heavy for those giddying high paths,
woe is me, who was formed from clay and whose thought is steel and

[Report Error]