Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Pippi Longstocking Coincidence

Statistics has never been one of my strong points but I'm willing to bet that the probability of the following two events occurring on the same day are astronomical.

I'm currently reading the first volume in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and on Tuesday morning was reading (among others) page 45 when I came across the following sentence: Somebody'd get a fat lip if they ever called me Pippi Longstocking on a newspaper placard. From the context I assumed that this was some reference to the dress sense or appearance of one of the characters. Given that the book is set in Sweden and I'm reading an English translation then I guessed that this was a pop culture reference that you had to be Swedish to really appreciate. I had got the general gist though and so didn't think anything more about it, until...

On Tuesday night we sat down to watch Episode 14 of Glee that had aired on Monday night on E4. Part way through one of the characters uttered the line: She looked like Pippi Longstocking, but, like, Israeli. Again it was obvious from the context that this was a reference to the way one of the characters dressed, but who on Earth is Pippi Longstocking? I'd assumed it was some obscure Swedish pop culture reference but here it is popping up in a mainstream American comedy drama.

So I turned to the fount of all human knowledge, Wikipedia, in search of answers. It turns out that Pippi Longstocking was originally Pippi Långstrump and has a Wikipedia page all to herself. She is the fictional creation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren and first appeared in a set of three books published in Sweden between 1945 and 1948. The books have been made into a number of TV programmes and films over the years both in Sweden and the US, which goes someway to explaining how she could crop up in two completely different places on the same day.

I still think the chances of me both reading and hearing a reference like this within a few hours of each other are minute, so I'm guessing it was just a coincidence and not the universe playing with my head!
25 April 2010 at 17:41 , Scriptor Senex said...

Pippi Longstocking books were very popular in the early seventies with younger readers at the library, as Bryony's Mum will no doubt recall as well.

25 April 2010 at 19:01 , Mark said...

Ah, so I'm just not quite old enough!

3 May 2010 at 21:45 , GB said...

Actually there's more coincidences. The Larsson books are incredibly popular (and very expensive) in NZ and I have them down on my list having been exhorted at every airport bookstall to try them. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

As for Pippi Longstocking I've seen a lot of recent references including one in Dawn Treader's (Swedish) blog on 1st April

4 May 2010 at 08:59 , Mark said...

GB, very curious all these references popping up at once!

I've now read the first two Larsson books and am well into the thrid. It is very rare for me to read a series of books all at once, but having only read the first third of book 1 I ordered the 2nd and 3rd knowing I would want to read them straight through. Bryony has also started reading the first one and so I'm now under instructions that I have to finish the third before she gets to it.

If you want to read them then have a look at Amazon you can currently buy all three for just £10.75 which seems a pretty good deal.

Post a Comment