The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (Orig. Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige) is a famous work of fiction by the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf, published in two parts in 1906 and 1907. The background for publication was a commission from the National Teachers Association in 1902 to write a geography reader for the public schools.
"She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarizing herself with animal and bird life. She has sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story." (From translator Velma Swanston Howard's introduction.)
Selma Lagerlöf, like many leading Swedish intellectuals of her time, was a friend of Swedish spelling reform. When published in 1906, this book was one of the first to adopt the new spelling mandated by a government resolution on April 7, 1906.
The book is about a young lad, Nils Holgersson, whose "chief delight was to eat and sleep, and after that he liked best to make mischief". He takes great delight in hurting the animals in his family farm. Nils captures an elf in a net and the elf turns Nils into an elf too, which leaves him shrunken and able to talk with animals, who are thrilled to see the boy reduced to their size and are angry and hungry for revenge. In an attemped to stop one of the farm geese from joining his wild fellows on their migration north, Nils takes off on the back of the goose. The wild geese, who are not pleased at all to be joined by a boy and a domestic goose, eventually take him on an adventurous trip across all the historical provinces of Sweden observing in passing their natural characteristics and economic resources. At the same time the characters and situations he encounters make him grow: Nils needs to prove to the geese that he is a useful companion, despite their initial misgivings. When he proves that he has changed his ways, he gets turned back into a boy. (Text adapted from www.vikipedia.org)
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