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.

By Editor

53 thoughts on “KALLE BLOMKVIST – What does Kalle mean?”
  1. Kalle Blomqvist was a “spy” in Pippi Langstocking stories.

    Posted by Anita Hedvall in Portland OR ,

  2. 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 ,

    1. 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.

  3. 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 ,

  4. 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 ,

  5. 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 ,

  6. 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 ,

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

    Posted by Kim in Minneapolis ,

  8. 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 ,

  9. 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 ,

  10. 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 ,

  11. 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 ,

  12. 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 ,

  13. 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 ,

  14. 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 ,

  15. 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 ,

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