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Selma Lagerl"of talks of Aline's gifts

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Selma Lagerl"of, part of Sweden's literary renaissance of the 1890s, was the first Swedish writer and the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1909) -- for ``lofty idealism, vivid imagination, and spiritual perception.'' She was also known for her feminism and her depiction of Swedish customs to readers far and wide. A hint of the former element may appear with the latter in this passage from ``Memories of My Childhood'' (English translation, 1934). A man in love has arrived osten sibly on a commercial errand. It seems strange that Engineer Frykberg, who is a man of powerful build with long black throat whiskers plentifully sprinkled with gray, should take it so hard because Aunt Lovisa and Aline Laurell have gone to Gardsj"o. He blinks his eyes rapidly several times, then takes out a large red bandanna and mops his face. When he holds out his cup so that Mamma can pour coffee for him, the spoon clinks against the saucer.

Mamma looks up, not in the least disturbed by Engineer Frykberg's singular behavior. She says with a smile:

``They are not going to stay at Gardsj"o the whole evening. I think they will be back by six o'clock.''

When Mamma says that, Engineer Frykberg brightens up; he puts his handkerchief back into his pocket, and the spoon suddenly stops jingling against the saucer.

While they drink their coffee, Mamma talks to Engineer Frykberg about Aline Laurell. She is very fortunate, she says, in having such an excellent governess for her children, and one who is so orderly, so modest, and so pleasant to have in one's home. In addition, she has such capable hands! She can make the prettiest things out of nothing at all.

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