Stieg Larsson

KALLE BLOMKVIST – What does Kalle mean?

The celebrated Millennium series written by the late Stieg Larsson became a worldwide hit in the literary world at the turn of the 21st century. The series centered on two characters, the shy Lisbeth Salander and reporter Mikael Blomkvist (aka Kalle Blomkvist).

It is Blomkvist who investigates the disappearance of Henrik Vagner’s great-niece from decades ago.
As part of Blomkvist’s investigation, he uncovers a series of brutal, unsolved murders may have a connection to the disappearance of Vagner’s great-niece. Blomkvist then draws upon the assistance of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker who had previously been hired by Vagner to discover the fate of his great-niece.


The relationship between Blomkvist and Salander grows from appreciation to affection as they delve deeper into the mystery. For readers of the Millennium series along with fans of the films, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the sequels, the relationship is the core of the world created by Larsson.

Meaning of Kalle

In strictest terms, the Kalle meaning in English as described in the novels is Bill Bergson. However, Kalle when it is spelled Calle is the Swedish equivalent of Carl, which happens to be Mikael Blomkvist’s first name, Carl Mikael Blomkvist. This means that Kalle in Swedish is Carl, but in the novels it is really about the famous literary boy detective.

Kalle is a nickname that has been given to Michael which refers to a famous boy detective featured in a series of novels written by Astrid Lindgren. In Kalle’s first investigation, he uncovers the hideout of a gang of bank robbers. Michael Blomkvist is no fan of the name Kalle perhaps because he does not want to be seen as the famous boy detective.

In the Stieg Larsson series, the nickname is bestowed to Mikael by Lisbeth, which is done in a sarcastic manner. She continually refers to Mikael as Kalle, but her tone changes through the series as she gains respect for him. The name Lisabeth Salander also originates from the Astrid Lindgren novels. She appears to be named after the character of Eva-Lotta Lisander. However, Lisabeth’s personality and stature seem to be based on Lingren’s most famous character from another series, Pippi Longstocking.

Who is Kalle Blomkvist?

The name Kalle refers to Bill Bergson, a fictional character created by Astrid Lindgren, a famous Swedish writer. Or, the name may have originated with Mikael Blomkvist, a fictional character created by Stieg Larsson, an author and journalist.

As Kalle Blomkvist, this nickname is one that is not appreciated by Mikael. Perhaps because it seeks to downplay or make fun of his obsessive nature when it comes to discovering the origins of mysteries. Or perhaps in delving into the truth no matter the risk. However, given his feelings and understanding for Lisabeth, it seems to be a nickname he is willing to tolerate at least from her. Plus, he needs Lisabeth by his side as her skills and understanding help to solve the mystery of the great-niece, the inheritor of the Vagner fortune assuming she is still alive.

Kalle Blomkvist as Mikael Blomkvist

Kalle Blomkvist as Mikael Blomkvist

As portrayed by Michael Nyqvist, Kalle Blomkvist is a fictional character who is the creator of the Millennium magazine and investigative journalist who pursues government abuse. However, in the fictional series his attention is turned to an old crime, a disappearance that occurred back in the 1960s which has ramifications that have lasted to the present. In this role, Kalle comes to the forefront. Perhaps motivated by his three-month sentence of slander for allegations he made against industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Mikael was forced to step down from his position with the magazine and instead take this off-kilter assignment by Vagner. This brings out the “Kalle” in Mikael as his attention turns to solving a non-political assignment.

Kalle Blomkvist as Bill Bergson

Kalle Blomkvist as Bill Bergson

Bill Bergson is a fictional character as created by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren. Bergson first appeared in 1946. In the series, Bergson is a curious boy with a knack for uncovering clues and solving mysteries which puts him in danger. This is particularly true when it comes to the adults and the police who try to dismiss his discoveries. Bergson is joined on his adventures by friends of his age, including Eva-Lotta and Anders.

One interesting aspect of the characters in the Lindgren books is that for fun the play a game called the War of the Roses. It is a game that helps sharpen their detective skills as one group hides a uniquely shaped stone and provides clues for the other group to find it. Although there are no child’s game or group of friends that Mikael has, at least to investigate the crimes from the past. He does have Lisabeth and their interesting relationship does harken back in some ways to the Lindgren series of novels about the boy detective.

The Nod Between the Two Characters

What may be more interesting than the connection between Kalle and Mikael Blomkvist is the one between anti-hero Lisabeth Salander and Pippi Longstocking. It was Larsson’s contention before he passed away that Lisabeth was the adult version of Longstocking, a girl who had lost her way. As the titular character in the three novels that Larsson completed before he passed away, Lisabeth seems to be the dark road of what was an optimistic character in Longstocking. But what is true of both characters is that they have suffered from a challenging childhood. It seems that Lisabeth has embraced more of the dark side of humanity as displayed by her dragon tattoo.

Conclusion

So, what does Kalle mean?

In the Stieg Larsson novels, it means that Mikael is the adult representation of the famous Lindgren boy detective. Older, wiser, and far more world-weary.

There is no escaping the connection between Mikael Blomkvist and Kalle, both in terms of the divide the characters take in terms of their personal journey. But also, in the connection between the Larsson novels and the works of Lindgren. It is the connection that runs deep not only for the characters, but the readers who are familiar with the works of both authors.

53 comments on “KALLE BLOMKVIST – What does Kalle mean?”

  • Anita Hedvall in Portland OR says:

    Kalle Blomqvist was a “spy” in Pippi Langstocking stories.

    Posted by Anita Hedvall in Portland OR ,


  • Kalle in Stockholm says:

    Kalle Blomkvist was NOT a character in Pippi Longstocking. He is a young teenager detective in a series of books written by Astrid Lindgren, same author as Pippi Longstocking. I guess the character Mikael Blomkvist doesn’t want to be compared to a teenage detective…

    Posted by Kalle in Stockholm ,


    • Gillian frank says:

      Thanks for that info. I have almost finished the last book, The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest, what wonderful series! Cliffhanger of a court ending, but is it over??? I am on page 519, book finishes on 563. Love that gutsy girl Lisbeth! For some reason I just stopped reading to check what "Kalle" meant. A great shame there will be no more books forthcoming from Steig Larsson.


  • Anders in Stockholm says:

    Astrid Lindgren, the author of the Pippi Longstocking books also wrote 3 books about the boy Master detective Kalle Blomkvist.

    In translation to English the name was changed to Bill Bergson. See

    http://www.astridlindgren.se/en/her-works/books/textbocker/bill-bergson

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bergson

    Carl Mikael Blomkvist should then have been translated to something like Bill Mikael Bergson in English if it should be understandable why he hate being called Bill. In chapter one of the first book as a child he is very close to Kalle Blomkvist/Bill Bergson.

    Posted by Anders in Stockholm ,


  • J.F. Bloomquist in Sparks says:

    My last name is Bloomquist, I like the Swedish spelling much better, but still three books about a Swedish journalist with the last name Blomkvist! I have read two of them and now will begin, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Lizabeth Salander is the most exciting heroine to come along in years.

    Posted by J.F. Bloomquist in Sparks ,


  • admin says:

    The third book is as good if not better… enjoy…..

    C


  • Linda Thamm in Victoria says:

    Have only read half of the third book…..am waiting for it to capture what the other two novels had an abundant supply of…….

    Posted by Linda Thamm in Victoria, Texas ,


  • Monica in Olympia says:

    The Swedish press calling Mikael Blomkvist “Kalle Blomkvist” would be a little like the U.S. press nicknaming an American reporter named Michael Brown “Encyclopedia Brown,” or calling a reporter named Michelle Drew “Nancy Drew,” or two investigative journalist partners “The Hardy Boys.”

    It’s not meant as an insult exactly, but it is a bit mocking, and an adult journalist would very quickly grow tired of being compared to a fictional child/teen detective.

    Posted by Monica in Olympia ,


  • Kim in Minneapolis says:

    The best comparison is the one by Monica in Olympia. She gets my vote for best explanation.

    Posted by Kim in Minneapolis ,


  • Anny in Louisville says:

    Thanx to Monica in Olympia for a very good explanation!

    Posted by Anny in Louisville, KY ,


  • yonas in stockholm/london says:

    what you forget to tell is that his full name is Carl Mikael Blomkvist, and in sweden its common to call someone named Carl for Kalle. he chooses to use Mikael instead of Carl, because he doesnt like when people call him KB.

    Posted by yonas in stockholm/london ,


  • kalle in ankaborg says:

    also funny that the “kalle” connection was made in a case in which robbers wore donald duck masks – donald duck is kalle anka in sweden :-)

    Posted by kalle in ankaborg ,


  • Monica in Olympia says:

    Right, I forgot the detail of Blomkvist’s real first name being Carl. I think it was only mentioned the one time. I wish there had been a better explanation of the of the Carl/Kalle connections in the U.S. versions of the books. Pippi Longstocking is very famous here, but in addition to the name being changed for the American translation, the “Bill Bergstrom” books have been out of print for years. I had to look up Kalle Blomkvist and Bill Bergstrom on Wikipedia to really understand the reference and come up with the analogy I wrote above.

    And I didn’t know about the Donald Duck/Kalle Anka thing, so thanks for telling me! The American edition of the book mentioned the masks but didn’t explain the wordplay involved.

    Thanks Swedes for helping out us ignorant, unilingual Americans! (Okay I know a little French and Spanish, but it’s been a while, and those doesn’t help with Larsson’s books. Though it was fun to hear Mimmi speaking French to her parents on the phone in the second movie, which I just saw last week.)

    Posted by Monica in Olympia ,


  • Monica in Olympia says:

    Oops, Bill Bergson, not Bergstrom.

    Posted by Monica in Olympia ,


  • reverend eve in santa cruz says:

    this trillogy is like crack…. I am utterly addicted. It makes me want to take a trip to Sweden. Viva la Blomkvist!!

    Posted by reverend eve in santa cruz, ca ,


  • Avapast in Camberley UK says:

    On the radio today was a man who said “why would he waste his time on the internet when he has a perfectly good encyclopedia”. I am in the middle of The Girl who played with fire and have been frustrated at not knowing the meaning of Kalle, all

    I did was to type in Kalle and I found the answer Thank you Monica and and I rest my case.

    Posted by Avapast in Camberley UK ,


  • Laura in West Allis says:

    Thank you for the clear explination, Monica. Greatly appreciated.

    Posted by Laura in West Allis, WI ,


  • Sharie in Tampa says:

    where can I get an English translation of the

    Kalle Blomquist books?

    Posted by Sharie in Tampa, Fl ,


  • Karen in Philadelphia says:

    Thank you, Monica, for your explanation! (Although I would lay off the “ignorant American” thing. I know you’re meaning to be humble, but there’s no shame in not knowing every language.)

    Posted by Karen in Philadelphia ,


  • Monica in Olympia says:

    Karen in Philadelphia:

    No, no shame, but compared to Europeans, who are often multilingual, it’s sad how few Americans speak a second language. For instance, you can go to YouTube and find several English-language interviews with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. And I’m saying this as someone who never did much with the two foreign languages I did study.

    It is interesting that Pippi Longstocking is still so well known in the United States, but Kalle Blomkvist/Bill Bergson seem to have faded out of popular consciousness. Though I wonder how many Swedes know who Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins are.

    Posted by Monica in Olympia ,


  • Manda Aanerud in Minneapolis says:

    On the topic of language fluency, it always makes me a bit grumbly when Europeans go on about how American’s don’t speak more than English, or English and a little Spanish.

    If I’m in Stockholm, I can spend half a day on a boat and end up in Helsinki. On the way I can listen to Swedish and Finnish, and usually German and English as well. If I hop on a train, I’m (at most) two days travel from a multitude of languages, depending on what direction I pick. It’s much easier to learn (and retain) languages you use!

    Alternatively, if I start in Chicago, I could sail a boat to Thunder Bay and then speak English when I got there. I could take a bus for two days and end up in the a multitude of states where they speak English. If I worked at it, I could find areas where people speak other languages.

    I took three years of Finnish at University, two of Spanish, one of Dutch, and a half-year of Swedish; but I’m not really fluent at any of them. I’ve practically no one to talk to!

    So if anyone from Europe would like to help me keep my skills sharp and less mock-worthy, go right ahead! :P

    Posted by Manda Aanerud in Minneapolis, MN ,


  • Steen Rancher in Qualicum Beach says:

    I am firmly behind the “Thanks Monica” group …a very concise explanation!

    Posted by Steen Rancher in Qualicum Beach, Canada ,


  • Cyn in Madison says:

    Back in 6th grade I was huge “Bill Bergson” fan. The books are long out-of-print (sadly) and I only found “collector” (read: expensive) copies at second hand places. They are great stories, if you manage to track them down somewhere. My sister and I learned the code that Bill and his friends use to communicate, so we could talk together without anyone understanding.

    Posted by Cyn in Madison ,


  • danny beano in Stockholm says:

    yes, Kalle F***ing Blomkvist, we all know now don’t we? i love it.

    Posted by danny beano in Stockholm ,


  • Cherry Pie in Cherry Hill says:

    first up, thank you to all who cleared up the “mystery” of Kalle Blomkvist. I am in the middle of reading the last book. Does anyone know if/when the Swedeish version of the “The Girl who played with fire” is going to come to the States. My guess, is its not as they will be filming the American version soon. :-(

    Posted by Cherry Pie in Cherry Hill ,


  • Elizabethj48 in Keene says:

    we have seen the first two Swedish movies here in Keene, NH. They were great. I imagine the third one will be here soon. We’re a college town and have a theatre that shows independent and foreign movies.

    Posted by Elizabethj48 in Keene, NH ,


  • Marcela in Denver says:

    Cherry Pie

    The third movie opened today here in Denver! I would assume that if we managed to get it, Cherry Hill should get them too! I can’t wait to watch it!

    if you go to the official movie site, there are listings where the movies are opening/showing

    Posted by Marcela in Denver, CO ,


  • Xanthe in Hong Kong says:

    i was left wanting for sooo much more after reading the 3rd. Also Thanks Monica for clearing up the confusion on the “Kalle” issue. i assumed it was some inside Swedish joke, but i wasn’t going to put down the book to find out!!!

    Posted by Xanthe in Hong Kong ,


  • Xanthe in Hong Kong says:

    BTW, does anyone know if it’s out on DVD anywhere for the films? I’d love to watch the Swedish version with English Subs.. being in HK, i only saw the advert for the 1st film, which led to me being interested in the books! Now i know it was filmed and released last year, I want to find it and watch it all at once…any ideas?

    Posted by Xanthe in Hong Kong ,


  • Scott in Tallahassee says:

    I Googled Kalle Bloomqvist when I was reading the first book. It’s refresshing to read a book that has been translated, but not Americanized for us Yanks. My wife and I started reading the Harry Potter books with our older daughter and soon became hooked and read them after she outgrew reading with her parents. The first few Scholastic books changed British slang to American slang. They even changed the title of the first book. I was glad when they realzed that we could handle some things that were unfamiliar to us. I’ve enjoyed learning a little more about Sweden through the books and yes, I’m addicted.

    Posted by Scott in Tallahassee, Florida ,


  • Elaine in Mt. Clemens says:

    Dear Cherry PIe: The Girl Who Played with Fire may not have played the movie houses, but I got it from Netflix, so you could, too. I am apprehensive about seeing the American versions. I love Lisbeth and Mikael.

    Posted by Elaine in Mt. Clemens ,


    • Chris says:

      Have you seen the American versions? I did, & was appalled at the way they cut-out the entire Australian portion of the Dragon film, making Harriet another person! Technically, the American version was great, but the Swedish film was more accurate & had a much better flow!


  • ati in malaysia says:

    Hi Xanthe, I’m in malaysia and facing the same problems too!… where can I watch them or get the dvds?

    netflix is only for US residents.. darn…

    Posted by ati in malaysia ,


  • Karl-Erik Eklund in Villa says:

    I was christened Karl-Erik Eklund in a Swedish Church in New York and called Kalle as a child. I told the Army my name was Karl Erik Eklund because otherwise it would have been Karlerik N.M.I. (No Middle Initial) Eklund. I had some difficulty in Stockholm because i spoke Finland’s-Swedish which is more like the spelling than the Stockhold dialect. I found it jarring to have the placenames in the books just given in Swedish in the midst of the english text. Since I didn’t read them with my computer nearby I had no sense of where things were. But they were very good otherwise.

    They make Julian Assange’s cop problems understandable–both the connection with the CIA and the fascist point of view. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

    Posted by Karl-Erik Eklund in Villa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ,


  • Kirrilee “Huggy” Huggins in Brisbane says:

    Thanks Monica! The Kalle thing sorted, I then had to look up Henry Huggins on Wikipedia. My name is Kirrilee Huggins. I had no idea there was a book character in existence with my surname in America! It’s an unusual surname and one I’m proud of. Two things cleared up :)

    Posted by Kirrilee “Huggy” Huggins in Brisbane, Australia ,


  • Jussi Tuovinen in Helsinki says:

    Monica in Olympia: I agree with your notions of an adult journalist vs. a teenage “detective”, but I guess an additional twist from the author’s part is that Mikael is actually a bit boyish, naive and idealistic in his thoughts and actions given his age and thus all that mocking is actually much too fitting obviously for his annoyance too… ;-)

    A bit similar comparison of him done by Lisbeth is with the only apt and clever pig of Disney’s Three Pigs, namely Practical Pig (Bror Duktig in Swedish, Veli Ponteva in Finnish). Here I think the mocking tone is conveyed best in the Finnish version as “ponteva” although basically a positive notion is practically never used except in a more or less mocking context. The Swedish “duktig” has perhaps a bit of the same touch left, but I think the English “practical” is much too normal (or practical ;-) notion to carry all those connotations…

    Manda Aanerud in Minneapolis: Hieno homma! Tsemppiä vaan. Jos haluat harjoittaa suomeasi, niin minut löytää esim. Facebookista… :-)

    Posted by Jussi Tuovinen in Helsinki ,


  • Chris in Atlanta says:

    I appreciate the informative posts here since I was trying to figure out why Blomqvist groaned each time he was called Kalle. Beyond that kind of modest “insider” referencing, I find the constant local references to be an author’s vehicle for providing context (each town, neighborhood or even street providing connotations as to class or culture for those knowledgeable about Sweden) which is lost on those (like me) who don’t know the country. Larsson may have never guessed that his audience would go beyond his home country and the local references would be readily welcomed there. Is it too much to ask for a map like those in some international spy thrillers?

    Posted by Chris in Atlanta ,


  • Chian in Shanghai says:

    I wonder the same about Kalle as I read the second book. Nice to find the answer here thru googling. I also wonder when I am gonna to watch the movies; but perhaps it’s better for me to keep the portraits of the characters in mind, in case the movies ruin my imaginations~

    Posted by Chian in Shanghai, C ,


  • Ro in Ireland says:

    It was explained briefly in the English translated version of the second book. I had no idea what they were on about in the first but it all made sense after they explained it!

    Posted by Ro in Ireland ,


  • Eltham in Cardiff says:

    Don’t know which versions of the books you’ve been reading in the US but in the versions published in the UK the connection between Mikael and “Kalle” Blomkvist is very clearly explained. As a reader totally unfamiliar with Astrid Lindgren’s stories I didn’t feel I needed to know about them to understand why he had the nickname Kalle. This is no different to John Connolly’s protagonist Charlie Parker being called “Bird”.

    In the Swedish movie adaptations the Kalle references are dropped as they add little to the movie narrative.

    Posted by Eltham in Cardiff ,


  • Steve Renolds in Ottawa says:

    Thanks to all who contributed to the explanation of why Blomkvist did not like the “Kalle Blomkvist” nickname. I was wondering what the connection was between Kalle, which is Swedish for Donald and Blomkvist. I missed the fact that the robbers were wearing Donald Duck masks.

    MTCW on hollywood remakes – what people don’t do for money. The Swedish films are great because the north american audience does not know the actors. I hate it when “names” are chosen for the box office appeal – they so often disappoint because one mixes them up with previous persona (e.g. Daniel Craig in his James Bond character). A film is so much better when one is not continually comparing the actor to previous characters – one can get engrossed in the story itself that is unfolding on the screen.

    Posted by Steve Renolds in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada ,


  • Chrissie in Worcester says:

    The original 3 Kalle Blomquist movies from 1947, 1953 and 1957 are much better than the remakes. I grew up watching them on German TV in the sixties and loved them!

    Posted by Chrissie in Worcester, MA, USA ,


  • Chrissie in Worcester says:

    For years I’m planning a trip to Trosa, Sala und vaxholm north of Stockholm where these 3 movies have been filmed. What I was wondering is: are all locations from the movies still the way they looked 50 years ago? And how can I find the old mine where the children are lost or the old villa where Kalle, Eva-Lotte and Anders are locked in or the big field with the ruin of a castle where the Red Rose and the White Rose are fighting their battles? Does anybody know?

    waldenpond88hotmail.com

    Posted by Chrissie in Worcester, MA, USA ,


  • Anita in Rockford says:

    Just now discovered the Larsson books and have lost much sleep because I can’t put them down. Read Dragon and Fire, and watched the (dubbed) DVD of Hornet.

    Posted by Anita in Rockford, IL, USA ,


  • Sharlene says:

    Where can I get an English translation of Lingren’s

    Kalle Blomquist book? My husband is named Carl

    Blomquist

    Posted by Sharlene ,


  • M.H. in Cincinnati says:

    How is “Kalle” pronounced?

    Posted by M.H. in Cincinnati, OH ,


  • Broomstra in Ann Arbor says:

    Kah-lee

    Posted by Broomstra in Ann Arbor ,


  • Paul F*****g Bellamy in Charlotte says:

    The explanation of Kalle Blomvkist is in the book, but I had forgotten it. Thanx Monica for the very good explanation.

    Posted by Paul F*****g Bellamy in Charlotte, NC ,


  • Ann in New York says:

    Kalle is pronounced like “KAH – LEH” not ‘lee’ or ‘lay’

    Posted by Ann in New York, NY ,


  • Z. Yronwood in Gig Harbour. says:

    From what I can gather Kalle Blomvist is the Swedish equivalent to Encyclopedia Brown.

    Posted by Z. Yronwood in Gig Harbour. ,


    • wp75 says:

      From Wikipedia: Bill BergsonBill Bergson (original Swedish name: Kalle Blomkvist) is a fictional boy detective created by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.Lindgren's detective story is about Bill Bergson, a more-or-less ordinary Swedish boy with an extraordinary fascination for detective work. He lives in the small town Lillköping. He identifies clues, investigates enigmas, and solves the riddle surrounding a mysterious stranger while the police and other adults overlook or dismiss the whole matter. He and his friends several times solve real crimes including murder and kidnapping.


  • The Dragon in Salanderville says:

    The so called “Donald Duck Gang” mentioned above does have striking similarities to Militärligan (The Military Mob) here in Sweden and described in the book “Stieg: From Activist to Author” (Excerpts are available with Google books; search Militärligan nazi ) where this Bank Robber Gang showed itself to have connection to the Swedish Nazi movement.

    Posted by The Dragon in Salanderville ,


  • Dale Capello says:

    AMAZON has the Swedish version on it`s prime video list, I`’ve watched all three episodes of the Swedish versions [3 hours each], and read all three books. I get more out of them each time, as well as improving my Swedish.

    Posted by Dale Capello ,