Minimalists in Fiction: Lisbeth Salander

© 2013 Christy King

“Lisbeth Salander was a quick-witted girl with ‘a rather trying attitude.'”

– The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander is one of the main characters in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy comprised of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

When the series begins, Salander is working part-time as an investigator and living in a 500 square foot apartment. She realizes she could double her earnings by working full-time, but she “had few expenses, and did not need much money.”

“Mimmi had taste and definite views on how she wanted her living quarters to look, what kind of furniture she wanted, and what sort of clothes one should wear. Salander had no taste whatsoever, Mimmi realized.”

– The Girl Who Played With Fire

Without giving away any details, let’s just say, by the end of the first book, Salander manages to come into a significant amount of money, becoming financially independent.

Even with her newfound wealth, she dresses simply. She continues to wear basic clothing, mostly jeans and t-shirts. Though she could afford a Ferrari, Salander buys a 4-year old Honda.

She also travels light: “All she had with her was a carry-on bag containing her PowerBook, Dimensions [a math book], and a change of clothes.”

“Salander was afraid of no-one and nothing.”

– The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

When searching for a new apartment, Salander’s main concerns are that it have a view and a balcony. Her third requirement is that it be “a pleasant, sparsely furnished apartment that was easy to take care of.” Sounds fairly minimalist so far, right?

Her fourth requirement, however, is not: “the new apartment should have plenty of space and closets.” Salander, in fact, chooses a 3,800 square foot apartment in one of Stockholm’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

Interestingly, she furnishes only the rooms she uses, and even in those rooms, has no decorations or knickknacks.

What do you think?

What does being a minimalist mean to you? Do you have to minimize everywhere you possibly can? Does Salander qualify even though she buys a giant apartment?

5 thoughts on “Minimalists in Fiction: Lisbeth Salander

  1. That’s taking the advice to create your own style of minimalism in a different direction. I’m right there with the balcony etc, but have never wanted to live in a huge space, but that’s me. I am currently reading the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy and because of your minimalist series found myself thinking of you when I was reading about the lifestyle of those living in what is called area 13. Everything is valued and nothing is wasted. Even the meals are measured based on your size and weight and the physical requirements of your job, the food is plain but meets their needs. Everyone wears a utilitarian outfit and lives in a space I would call a cell more than a home.

  2. Hello Christy, I read the first in the Stieg Larsson, was not crazy about it, so did not read the rest of the series. Hard to verbalize why, but I did not particularly like the Lisbeth Salander character.

    As for your question, I don’t think that you need to “minimize everywhere you possibly can” in order to qualify as a true minimalist. For one thing, as you have pointed out, achieving minimalism is a process, and the destination is not the same for everyone, Quote from Joshua Becker: “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. ”

    Enjoyed this post very much!

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.