Stieg Larsson's Controversial Legacy

The inheritance dispute is being waged publicly. It culminated when Gabrielsson and Joakim Larsson went on Swedish television to explain their respective positions on the dispute. The widow, invoking a higher form of justice, said that the money had made the two Larssons greedy. Joakim Larsson defended his right to the inheritance and, in his modesty, came across as likeable.

A Moral Legacy The lives of the Larssons in Umea have changed very little. They haven't bought any new houses or new cars. They've established a foundation and support projects that fit Stieg Larsson's image. They offered Gabrielsson a portion of the assets and a seat on the foundation board of directors several times, but she refused to agree to a compromise.

Almost eight years have passed since Stieg Larsson's death. One would think it would be enough time to resolve the dispute. No, says 58-year-old Gabrielsson, there is no peace in sight, nor is there a bridge between the parties or even a mediator. Death and money, she says, bring out of people's true character. She explains what she means in her book. One day, Stieg's brother proposed that she marry his father so that she could gain access to the Millennium treasure, she writes. A marriage of convenience, he was quick to add.

Joakim Larsson, 55, says it was a joke, an attempt to relieve tension during a difficult meeting with the attorneys.

Gabrielsson argues that it isn't about all the money, but about Larsson's moral legacy. She insists that she knows best who Stieg Larsson really was and what he intended to achieve with his books. If she is to be excluded from the material side of his inheritance, she says, at least she wants to retain the right to interpret his work.

She says that she finds it strange that she is now expected to share Stieg Larsson with millions of readers who have formed an image of Larsson as a writer that has little to with Stieg, her soul mate. Readers see him as the inventor of a fantastic story filled with horrific murders and depraved people, a story that keeps coming back to Lisbeth Salander's life story. Everything else, the right-wing conspiracy among intelligence agents, the flood of prostitution and corruption, merely serves as the glaring background to the story. Crime novels are entertainment, a venue for good to prevail over evil, nothing more.

Gabrielsson says that the real Stieg Larsson was concerned about injustice in society, both in life and in his books, about truth between people and about solving the crimes that men commit against women. All three books were originally supposed to be titled "Men Who Hate Women." It was Larsson's wish, but one that his publisher, Norstedts, did not fulfill.

Larsson's main character, Salander, isn't a victim. She is a furious woman, a warrior who strikes back with the same brutality she was forced to endure. She is no victim, but rather a perpetrator, a character in a grim world who is turned into something mythical.

Real Author in Question

Who was Stieg Larsson? What did he want? And did he even write his books himself? Many legends have arisen in the years since his death, and Gabrielsson has contributed to some of them.

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