Gregorius | Granta

  • Published: 01/03/2008
  • ISBN: 9781846270178
  • 128x20mm
  • 432 pages


Bengt Ohlsson

Ageing and unattractive, the widowed Pastor Gregorius seems to have been granted a second chance at happiness when Helga, the young girl he has been fascinated by since her childhood, accepts his offer of marriage. Yet before long, the relationship turns sour and brutal and Gregorius suspects that his wife’s distaste for him has driven her to infidelity. To Gregorius, fretful about his failing health and brooding on mortality, the emptiness of his marriage is the final, bitter proof that he is unlovable, except in the eyes of God. And then an unexpected encounter with a woman who is able to return his affection makes it seem as though another kind of life might be possible. Gregorius is a compelling portrait of one man’s loneliness and longing, and a mesmerizing study of the desires that bring people together and the fears that keep them apart.

Gregorius... presents in patient detail and with vivid tableaux of contrasting couples, a problem that then exercised many. Ohlsson movingly depicts the plight of a man aware he is physically abhorrent to the woman he loves.

Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday

The power of the book comes from the difficulty of giving tenderness and humanity to [Gregorius's] perspective... Ohlsson is not content to be categorized as a successor. He has his own ambition and formal mastery. Silvester Mazzarella's translation succeeds in capturing the power of this unusual book, one that will be widely discussed.


Gregorius is a full, touching and artful re-imagining of its ungainly hero. It's also an unsettling but thoroughly engaging exploration of the seedier sides of human nature, and of the power men and women wield over each other in their most intimate relationships. No wonder it won a prize.

Margaret Atwood, The Guardian

The Author

Bengt Ohlsson is one of Sweden’s most celebrated novelists. He also writes plays and a weekly column for a Swedish national newspaper. He lives in Stockholm.

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