The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  
1st edition (Swedish)
Author(s) Stieg Larsson
Original title Män som hatar kvinnor
Translator Reg Keeland, pseudonym of Steven T. Murray
Country Sweden
Language Swedish
Series Millennium series
Genre(s) Crime / Mystery novel
Publisher Norstedts Förlag (Swedish)
Publication date 2005
Published in
Media type Print (paperback, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 978-91-1-301408-1 (Swedish)
ISBN 978-1-84724-253-2 (English)
OCLC Number 186764078
Followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (original title in Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women") is an award-winning crime novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as the "Millennium series".

At his death in November 2004, Larsson left the three unpublished novels that make up the trilogy. They became posthumous best-sellers in several European countries as well as in the United States.[1] Larsson witnessed the gang rape of a young girl when he was 15. He never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, whose name was Lisbeth – like the young heroine of his books, herself a rape victim, which inspired the theme of sexual violence against women in his books.[2]



Larsson writes, within the novel, in Chapter 12, "It's actually a fascinating case. What I believe is known as a locked room mystery, on an island. And nothing in the investigation seems to follow normal logic. Every question remains unanswered, every clue leads to a dead end."

He supplies a family tree explaining the relationships of five generations of the Vanger family.

With the exception of Hedestad, the novel takes place in real Swedish towns. The Millennium magazine featured in the books has characteristics similar to that of Larsson's magazine, Expo, which also had financial difficulties.[3]


December 2002. Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to three months in prison, and ordered to pay hefty damages and costs. Soon afterwards, he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, the retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that he had commissioned an investigation into Blomkvist's personal and professional history. This was carried out by Lisbeth Salander, a surveillance agent with Milton Security.

Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström, in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his greatneice, Harriet, was murdered by a member of the family 36 years earlier. Blomkvist moves to the Vanger estate and becomes immersed in the history of Harriet's disappearance.

Salander, who was ruled legally incompetent as a child, is under the care of legal guardian Holger Palmgren, but he has a stroke. Her new guardian, Nils Bjurman, is a sadist who uses his position to sexually abuse her in return for access to her own money. After he rapes her, Salander takes her revenge by torturing him and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her finances.

Blomkvist discovers Salander has hacked into his computer, and persuades her to assist him with researching Harriet's disappearance. Together they uncover decades of buried evidence, and they begin to suspect that they are on the trail of a serial killer. They have sexual intercourse, but the antisocial Salander keeps Blomkvist at a distance emotionally, refusing to give herself fully.

Blomkvist discovers that the killer is Martin Vanger, who tells him that his father initiated him when he was a teenager. He admits to murdering dozens of women, but denies killing his sister. Martin takes Blomkvist prisoner and nearly kills him, only for Salander to arrive just in time to save him. Martin is killed in a car accident while escaping Salander's pursuit. Salander's hacker acquaintance, Plague, sets up a phone tap on Anita Vanger's home in London. This proves that Harriet is alive, and located in Australia. Blomkvist flies over alone to find Harriet, because Salander's mother has just died. Harriet tells Blomkvist that her father and brother sexually abused her for years, and that she went into hiding because she killed her father. With Martin dead, she returns to Sweden, where she reunites with her great-uncle, who makes plans for her to take the position of CEO of the Vanger Corporation. Blomkvist accompanies Salander at the funeral.

Blomkvist is furious when he learns that the evidence against Wennerström that Vanger promised him is useless. However Salander has already hacked Wennerström's computer and has discovered that his crimes go far beyond what Blomkvist documented. Using her evidence, Blomkvist prints an exposé and book which ruins Wennerström and catapults Millennium to national prominence. Salander, using her phenomenal skill with computer hacking, succeeds in stealing more than a quarter of a billion dollars from Wennerström's secret bank account. Blomkvist and Salander spend Christmas together in his holiday retreat and their sexual relationship continues. At the end of the year, she goes to Blomkvist's home with her Christmas present for him, but sees him with Berger and flees. She had intended declaring her love for him.

As a post script, Salander continues to monitor Wennerstrom and after six months, anonymously informs a lawyer in Miami of his whereabouts. He is found in Marbella, dead, shot three times in the head.


  • Mikael Blomkvist, journalist, publisher and part-owner of Millennium magazine.
  • Lisbeth Salander, free-lance surveillance agent and researcher, specialising in investigating people, on behalf of Milton Security.
  • Henrik Vanger, retired industrialist and former CEO of Vanger Corporation.
  • Gottfried Vanger, Martin and Harriet's father. (Deceased)
  • Isabella Vanger, Gottfried Vanger's wife, Martin and Harriet's mother.
  • Harriet Vanger, Henrik's great-neice.
  • Martin Vanger, brother of Harriet and CEO of the Vanger Corporation.
  • Cecilia Vanger, daughter of Harald Vanger, and one of Henrik's nieces.
  • Anita Vanger, Cecilia's sister.
  • Birger Vanger, Cecilia and Anita's brother.
  • Hans-Erik Wennerström, billionaire financier.
  • Holger Palmgren, lawyer, legal guardian of Lisbeth Salander.
  • Nils Bjurman, lawyer, legal guardian of Lisbeth Salander after Palmgren.
  • Erika Berger, editor-in chief and majority owner of Millennium monthly magazine.
  • Dirch Frode, former lawyer for Vanger Corporation, now lawyer with one client: Henrik Vanger.
  • Dragan Armansky, CEO AND COO of Milton Security.
  • Christer Malm, director, art designer and part-owner of Millennium.
  • Gustaf Morell, Detective Superintendant. (Retired)

Major themes

Larsson makes several literary references to the genre's classic forerunners, and comments on contemporary Swedish society.[4] Reviewer Dessaix writes that "His favourite targets are violence against women, the incompetence and cowardice of investigative journalists, the moral bankruptcy of big capital and the virulent strain of Nazism still festering away ..." in Swedish society.[1]

Larsson further enters the debate as to how responsible criminals are for their crimes and how much is blamed on upbringing or society.[1] Salander has a strong will and assumes that everyone else does, too. She is portrayed as having suffered every kind of abuse in her young life, including an unjustly ordered commitment to a psychiatric clinic and subsequent instances of sexual assault suffered at the hands of her court-appointed guardian.

Reception and awards

The novel was released to great acclaim in Sweden and later, on its publication in many other European countries. In the original language, it won Sweden's Glass Key Award in 2006 for best crime novel of the year. It also won the 2008 Boeke Prize, and in 2009 the Galaxy British Book Awards[5] for Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, and the prestigious Anthony Award [6][7] for Best First Novel.

Larsson was posthumously awarded the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for International Author of the Year in 2008.[8]

The novel received mixed reviews from American critics. In a review for The New York Times upon the book's September 2008 publication in the United States, Alex Berenson wrote, "The novel offers a thoroughly ugly view of human nature"; while it "opens with an intriguing mystery" and the "middle section of Girl is a treat, the rest of the novel doesn't quite measure up. The book's original Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women, a label that just about captures the subtlety of the novel's sexual politics."[9] The Los Angeles Times said "the book takes off, in the fourth chapter: From there, it becomes classic parlor crime fiction with many modern twists....The writing is not beautiful, clipped at times (though that could be the translation by Reg Keeland) and with a few too many falsely dramatic endings to sections or chapters. But it is a compelling, well-woven tale that succeeds in transporting the reader to rural Sweden for a good crime story."[10] Several months later, Matt Selman said the book "rings false with piles of easy super-victories and far-fetched one-in-a-million clue-findings."[11]

As of June 3, 2011, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has sold over 3.4 million copies in hardcover or ebook formats, and 15 million copies altogether, in the United States.[12]

Film adaptations

The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird created film versions of the Millennium TrilogyThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish title: Män som hatar kvinnor, "Men Who Hate Women"), The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish title: Flickan som lekte med elden, "The Girl Who Played with Fire") and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Swedish title: Luftslottet som sprängdes, "The Air Castle that was Blown Up"). The films are co-produced with Nordisk Film and TV company,[13] with Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev directing the first film and Daniel Alfredson directing the second and third. In all three films, Noomi Rapace portrayed Lusbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist portrayed Mikael Blomkvist.

Filming began in early 2008, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opened in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland in February–March 2009. In Norway and Denmark, it is the most viewed Swedish film ever, and in Sweden total admissions are above one million.

The films have been sold to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Poland, Turkey, Mexico and the United States.

The film was acquired for theatrical and home video release by arthouse distributor Music Box Films. It had its American premiere on March 6, 2010 at the Miami Film Festival titled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The film opened in US theaters in limited release on March 19, 2010.

Played with Fire and Hornets' Nest were released in the United States in 2010 by Music Box Films. Men Who Hate Women opened in France on 13 May, and in Italy and Spain on 29 May 2009.

Played with Fire opened simultaneously in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark on 18 September 2009.

Hornet's Nest was released 27 November 2009 in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland in January 2010.

In the UK, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opened to critical acclaim in March 2010 and made more than £2 million at the box office. Sales of the DVD on its 19 July release have made it the highest selling foreign language title of the year in the UK. The Girl Who Played with Fire was released in cinemas the UK on 27 August and the final installment, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is set for release on 26 November.

In 2010, David Fincher directed a Hollywood adaptation of the book, for release in December 2011.[14] According to The Guardian, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt were all interested in playing the central role of Mikael Blomkvist, but Daniel Craig was officially confirmed as the lead in July 2010.[15] On August 16, 2010, it was officially confirmed that Rooney Mara will play Lisbeth Salander.[16] In the upcoming film, Robin Wright will play the role of Erika Berger,[17] while Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgård play the roles of Henrik and Martin Vanger respectively.[18] In a reprise of their partnership on The Social Network, Trent Reznor is collaborating with Fincher to create the soundtrack.[citation needed]


  • The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo (2010) - Adam Roberts
  • The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo - Lars Arffssen
  • The Girl who Fixed the Umlaut - Nora Ephron[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Dessaix, Robert (2008-02-22). "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  2. ^ Penny, Laurie (2010-09-05). "Girls, tattoos and men who hate women". New Statesman. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  3. ^ "Nils Andersson review". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  4. ^ "The Man Who Blew Up the Welfare State" from n+1
  5. ^ "2009 Galaxy British Book Awards. Winners. Shortlists. 1991 to present". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  6. ^ "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards and History". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  7. ^ "The Anthony Awards". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  8. ^ Allen, Katie (2008-10-06). "Rankin and P D James pick up ITV3 awards". News. The Bookseller. Archived from the original on 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  9. ^ Berenson, Alex (September 11, 2008). "Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  10. ^ Miller, Marjorie (September 17, 2008). "Thawing a cold case in Scandinavia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  11. ^ Matt Selman, Matt Selman (February 20, 2009). "Cold Noir". Techland. Time. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  12. ^ "Stieg Larsson Stats: By the Numbers". In the Bookroom. 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  13. ^ "Nordisk Film & TV Fond Yellow Bird Puts SEK 106m Millennium Project In Production". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike (July 20, 2010). "Sony Pictures Skeds 'Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' – But Two Leads Not Set Yet". Deadline Hollywood. 
  15. ^ "Daniel Craig to star in US Dragon Tattoo remake". BBC News. 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  16. ^ Barrett, Annie (2010-08-16). "'Dragon Tattoo' casts its Lisbeth Salander: Have you seen Rooney Mara in previous roles? |". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  17. ^ "Robin Wright Joins Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  18. ^ "Stellan Skarsgard in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". FilmoFilia. 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  19. ^ The Girl who Fixed the Umlaut. The New Yorker. 2010-07-05. Retrieved 2011-11-20.

Publication details

  • 2005, Swedish, Norstedts (ISBN 978-91-1-301408-1), pub date August? 2005, paperback (poss 1st edition)
  • 2008, UK, MacLehose Press, (Quercus Imprint) (ISBN 978-1-84724-253-2), pub date 10 January 2008, hardback (trans as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Reg Keeland)
  • 2008, US, Alfred A. Knopf (ISBN 978-0-307-26975-1), pub date 16 September 2008, hardback

External links

Publisher's Official website

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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