What’s in a name? (Novel edition)

I’ve just finished the first novel by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish detective story which is largely about the prevalence and horror of violence against women.

The title of the novel is Män som hatar kvinnor, which translates into English as “men who hate women”. It’s a pretty apt title, given the subject matter of the book.

I am not going to go into a full review of the book, but I’d briefly say that from a feminist perspective it is interesting, in as much as it does acknowledge and foreground violence against women. Each section chapter is headed up with statistics on violence against women in Sweden.

On the other hand, it’s unflinchingly brutal, and sometimes the descriptions of rape and murder veer towards grisly spectacle. There are some other issues I have with it, but I’m not going to go into all that here because it would spoil what’s still a very well-written book, even if it is one which you could argue should have “trigger alert” on the cover.

No, the point of this post is that the English version of the novel has been titled The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. For a start, it’s a much worse title, but I can’t help but think that the publishers thought a book with a title like “men who hate women” would be a bit less… sellable… than one about a “girl with a tattoo”.

Also, the cover-art has undergone a similar ‘transformation’: