Visualising a Classic: A graphic-novel version of Selma Lagerlöf's <cite>En herrgårdssägen</cite> A complete chapter from this graphic novel is available in English at the bottom of this page. Go to downloads


Selma Lagerlöf’s story En herrgårdssägen (‘The Tale of a Manor’), first published in 1899, has served as the source material for a film, an opera and a stage drama over the years. Now it exists as a graphic novel as well, in a version created by Marcus Ivarsson.

In Lagerlöf’s narrative, young Gunnar Hede would rather play his violin than concentrate on his studies. When Hede learns he is in danger of losing his family’s manor house, he decides to become a travelling merchant in an effort to earn money quickly. One of his business deals ends in disaster when an entire herd of goats dies in a snowstorm. Hede undergoes a change in personality. People start to refer to him as the Goat-Man. One day on his wanderings, the dishevelled Hede discovers a young woman, Ingrid, who has been placed in a coffin after falling into a deep torpor. Hede rescues Ingrid and carries her off in his rucksack. Hede and Ingrid do not recognise each other at first, even though they had met previously when Hede was still a student. Later, Ingrid realises who the scruffy man is. Can her love free Hede from his torment?

The Tale of a Manor

The Tale of a Manor

Selma Lagerlöf incorporated elements from Snow White and Beauty and the Beast as well as actual people and events in her story. As Marcus Ivarsson explains in his substantial afterword, this work has a special resonance for him – not only because of its subject matter, but also because he grew up in a town near the manor house where Lagerlöf was born and lived.

Ivarsson’s exhaustive research enabled him to depict clothing, house interiors and other details accurately for the period. The palette of subtle sepia tones clearly places the story in a bygone era. Ivarsson uses larger and smaller panels to vary the pace of the narrative, while Ingrid’s dreams are shown in panels with wavy edges.

The Tale of a Manor

The Tale of a Manor

The English text on the pages featured here is based on a translation by Jessie Brochner that was published in 1901 under the title From a Swedish Homestead. Brochner’s translation is available in full on the Project Gutenberg website.

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View full version of The Tale of a Manor
View full version of The Tale of a Manor (Adobe PDF, 1.3 MB)

Original title: Selma Lagerlöfs En herrgårdssägen
Kartago förlag, 2013
145 pp., hardback

Rights: Rolf Classon, Kartago förlag
rolf.classon[at]kartago.se