Review of “To Kill a Child” (1948)


Stig Dagerman (writer).

A non-evil man hits a child with his blue car in a village on the way to the ocean.

An unusual and effective combination of anticipation and repetition with emphatic dysteleology. Cars were not new in Sweden in 1948, but the short story does allude to the connection between cars and post-war youth culture. The accidental killer and his playful “young girl” are planning to row far away from shore, that is out of sight, and the car is taking them to the dinghy, as it was taking lots of young couples beyond the social reach of their parents. The victim’s father is planning a similar, though not sexual, boat trip. The direction of the narrative is therefore away from control, toward both liberation and death.

text fiction