Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Kallocain” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.8  ·  Rating details ·  3,448 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
This is a novel of the future, profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror. Ironic and detached, the author shows us the totalitarian World-state through the eyes of a product of that state, scientist Leo Kall. Kall has invented a drug, kallocain, which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published 1964 by Bonniers (first published 1940)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kallocain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Kallocain

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian, classics
I don't know how famous Kallocain or Karin Boye are outside Sweden, but she's pretty much one of our most renowned authors. I actually read this book back in 2007, but today at the flea market I just so happened upon a FREAKIN' ORIGINAL COPY FROM 1940 AND BOUGHT IT FOR FIVE FREAKIN' CROWNS! IT'S AMAZING AND SO FRAGILE AND THE PAGES A BLOODY HAND-CUT AND I LOVE IIIT!


Excuse me for that.

So anyway! Kallocain is a dystopian part-scifi about the chemist Leo Kall, who invents the first ever truth
Amy Sturgis
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Pontus Liljeblad
This poetic and moving novel deserves to be remembered in the same breath as We, 1984, Brave New World, and other great twentieth-century dystopias.

Leo Kall is a scientist who employs chemistry in the service of the oppressive Worldstate. He develops kallocain, a drug that exposes the private thoughts of his fellow-soldiers, thus paving the way for the Worldstate to ensure that either each individual becomes a "happy, healthy cell in the state organism" or he/she is eliminated.

To quote Leo's t
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sweden
Political dystopias found their form in the first half of the 20th century, with books like Zamyatin's We, Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four as the big three. Karin Boye's Kallocain (1940) deserves to be mentioned in the same context. It's certainly at least as good, and its central message - that fear, hatred and paranoia demands a conscious effort, which cannot be sustained forever - certainly more hopeful, as bleak as the novel and its author's untimely end is.

The set
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Leo Kall wakes up one morning to read the newspaper and the headlines say "Thoughts Can be Judged." Well, Leo already knows this, having invented a drug which he named after himself: Kallocain. Early in his career as a scientist for the Worldstate, a totalitarian regime, Kall realized that when people become intoxicated they tend to spill their guts to total strangers. Working from that idea, he develops Kallocain, and after a few subjects from the Voluntary Sacrificial Service are injected with ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
коли я вперше прочитала "каллокаїн", то дуже хотіла знайти докази того, що орвел його теж читав. було б гарно: він так розлого висловлюється про те, що гакслі приховує вплив на себе замятіна, а сам ні словом не згадує про карін боє, яка за вісім років до "1984" уже виразно просунулася в бік похмурості антиутопійної держави й розписала механізми стеження за кожною одиницею народонаселення. але ні, навряд, англійською "каллокаїн" переклали тільки в 1966 році, орвел туди зовсім не дожив (як і сама ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The book is set in a future, dystopian, totalitarian world state, after a World War. The government surveillance, with eyes and ears, reaches everywhere. Even the maids are bound to report every week about the family at which they work. The main protagonist, Leo Kall, is a dutiful citizen, accepting the rules of the society. He even invents a truth serum, Kallocain, to increase the government's control over the people, making the world state the owner of not only the peoples' identities, but als ...more
Thomas Strömquist
The fascinating Kallocain, the last novel by famous author and poet Karin Boye and published not 6 months prior to her tragic suicide in 1941. Well deserving of it's mention along with 'the great dystopies'; We, Brave New World, 1984 and This Perfect Day (yes, Ira Levin belongs there too!). Leo Kall creates the drug Kallocain after noting that people tend to reveal their inner thoughts following the intake of alcohol. Kallocain is much more effective and a great tool for the ones in power and th ...more
¿Qué hace diferente a esta distopía de las demás? En primer lugar: que es poco conocida; en segundo: que fue escrita en 1940 por una mujer, motivo por el cual puede que se dé el punto anterior. Leyendo este libro, si no sabes la fecha de publicación ni lees el prólogo (en el que se comenta este punto) puedes pensar fácilmente: ¡la leche, otra burda copia de 1984! Pero nada más lejos… Muchas escenas que se cuentan aquí, en cierta manera, también se cuentan en 1984, pero lamentablemente el padre d ...more
Jose Moa
Once i have read Kallokain ,for me there are three absolute totalitarian distopian materpiece novels : We,Kallokain and 1984,the other two : Farenheith 451 and A brave new world dont fall in the same class.

In the first three the life, the thougths,the sons and daughters are absolute property of the state.
Paradoxically this regímenes in the theorical apareance of all be for the good of the comunity,the state,are the most insolidarian and individualistic societies,the individual is the most selfis
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Sin duda una de las mejores novelas antiutópicas de su época. Un diario en primera persona que rezuma emociones reprimidas, una mirada al autoritarismo que se centra no en su cara política, sino en la sociocultural.

En los cimientos del aterrador futuro en que sucede esta historia no se encuentran el ansia de poder ni la corrupción política; los opresores son defensores de la moral, protectores de la civilización y la cultura. Los mueven sus ideales.

Kallocaína es una apología del individualismo.
You know the feeling when you read something you know is good, I mean not just because others have told you so but because you can actually feel it when you read the book? You read on and you still get the feeling that this is a good book...

...and yet you don't particularly care for it. This was such a book for me. I can understand why it's a classic, well known, and I'm glad that I've read it. But still my feelings for it are no more than lukewarm.
Kaj Samuelsson
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have heard a lot about this book and I never really wanted to read it but when I found it as a Swedish e-book when I needed something "new" after finishing some good fantasy books...
I found the book a bit (very) rambling, but still interesting and it was mainly about thoughts and feelings you are not supposed to have in the all powerful World State.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In vino veritas

According to roman historian Tacitus some Germanic peoples counseled only while drinking wine, because they believed that the drunk always speak true.

Wine is no longer necessary to loosen one's tongue since Leo Kall developed the drug called Kallocain. Kall is a chemist and the narrator of (t)his story. He is living in Chem(istry)town #4 in a nation called Worldstate. Like everyone else he is a fellow soldier and his work and after hours are filled with duties for the state. He is
Amazing! I would put this book on a level with Brave New World and 1984. May be, it's not that well-known because it was easier for a Swedish author to win the Nobel prize than to become popular worldwide. At least until writing Swedish thrillers became a guarantee for popularity. But seriously, the suicide of the author shortly after its release and being published during WW II probably caused the slide into oblivion.

Kallocain is a dystopia. The Earth is divided into two totalitarian states fig
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leo Kall är en kemist i Kemistaden 4 som arbetar för att förbättra effektiveten när det gäller att hitta och sålla ut Världstatens illojala eller fientliga invånare. Han har skapat en sanningsdrog som tvingar personen att säga precis som det är; utan några lögner eller hemligheter.

Men samtidigt som framgångarna är stora när det gäller sanningsdrogen börjar Leo Kall sakta men säkert inse att det är många som har önskningar och begär bortom Världstatens hårda, känslolösa styre – och snart finner
Cecilia ❄️
Gosh. I'm just relieved and overjoyed that I got through this boring book! I never really got into it or understood everything. And we're going to analyze this in my Swedish class... -.-' Well, well.

Okay, now about the book:
Kallocain was written by a very famous Swedish author, Karin Boye. She was mainly a poet, but wrote several novels too. Boye worked with the book during WW2, it was published 1940, so the novel has a lot of influences regarding both Germany and the Sovjet Union during that pe
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swedish, dystopia, 2012
Kallocain is a Swedish classic (written in 1940), dealing with themes of love and sense of self and the meaning of life, in a totalitarian state. Everytime I read certain kind of dystopias, I get a sense of unease at how poignant a lot of them still are. Kallocain takes place in a totalitarian state, much like 1984 does, although Kallocain predates the latter, and a lot of the surveillance in it, that probably seemed outlandish and outrageous when it was written, is commonplace today.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually even scarier than 1984.
Gabrielle Hult
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
En lågmäld dystopi, utan specialeffekter, perfekt uppbyggd. En av mina absoluta favoriter någonsin.
Kallocaína es un pasatiempo entretenido que, como buena parte de las distopías, ayuda a reflexionar sobre la sociedad actual y sus perversiones. La prosa de Karin Boye es fluída y sencilla y, aunque pierde esa fluidez en algunos momentos, resulta una lectura agradable y nada exigente.

Leo Kall es un químico en una sociedad, el Estado Mundo, que vive controlada y vigilada en aras de la colectividad y de la supervivencia del propio Estado. Los ciudadanos viven bajo tierra y en escasas ocasiones tie
Marco Tamborrino
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Per la prima volta nella mia vita avevo la consapevolezza di cosa fosse il potere, lo sentivo in mano come un'arma - ed ero disperato."

Questa è forse la distopia meno conosciuta al mondo, eppure risulta precedente anche al celebre 1984 di Orwell. L'autrice svedese Karin Boye riesce a creare una realtà credibile, claustrofobica e rigida, dove il regime poliziesco che si è installato non lascia scampo nemmeno ai pensieri.

Leo Kall, il protagonista, la voce narrante, ha creato un "siero della ver
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1930s, swedish, dystopia
Как же неоднозначна шкала оценки. Ведь 5 звезд Оруэллу и 5 звезд Бойе - это совсем разные вещи. Не значит это, что талант Бойе стоит на одном уровне c талантом Оруэлла, не значит и то, что смысл и проблематика "Каллокаина" стоит на одном уровне с "1984". Но абсолютно всем любителям антиутопий (только классических, а не жвачного уoung adult) стоит обратить внимание на эту книгу.

"Каллокаин" был написан за 8 лет до "1984" на волне впечатлений от прихода нацистов к власти - говорит нам официальная и
the gift
bleak, believable, banal, beautiful- best dystopia of which i had never heard, written by a woman poet. some reviews characterize this as kind of a Swedish 1984 or Brave New World, but i suggest the lineage more fruitfully explored is We by Zamyatin. this is a lyrical, poetic, rather mundane world without either the melodramatic oppression, the great names, the obvious powers of orwell's book- ministry of truth, thought police etc.- or the conspiracy of intellectual powers, seductive technology, ...more
حسين إسماعيل
تنتمي رواية "كالوكين" لذات النوع الذي تنتمي له روايتها ١٩٨٤ لأورويل وعالم جديد شجاع لآلدوس هكسلي، وهو نوع الرواية الديستوبية القائمة في عصر شمولي تسيطر فيه الدولة على كل جوانب الحياة.

لا تختلف هذه الرواية كثيرً، إذ أن "دولة العالم" هي غاية المنتهى في عالم الرواية، أي أن كل ما يقوم به الفرد هو من أجل الدولة، ابتداء من العيش والوجود وانتهاء بالفناء لأجلها. في رواية ١٩٨٤، كانت شركة الفكر مسؤولة عن الترصد والبحث عن المذنبين الذين يفكرون خارج هذا الإطار. في كالوكين، يكتشف البطل (ليو كال) مركبًا يجعل ا
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: published-1940
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juan José
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Distopía a la sueca. La autora se adelantó a Orwell, Huxley y a Bradbury. Lo que sucede cuando el Estado se inmiscuye en las vidas de las personas y éstas lo permiten. La libertad personal, el individualismo etc., son valores que deben protegerse y NUNCA permitir mordazas. Gran escritora. Una lástima su suicidio.
Luna Miguel
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Libracos de esos que molan a saco y que además una tiene el placer de prologar. Graciasmil a Gallo Nero por la oportunidad.

A To Pe.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, novels, dystopia
”Är det inte underligt att allting mister sitt värde så fort det upphör att vara gåva - till och med sanningen?”

Ok så en av mina favoritpoeter har skrivit en bok som tillhör min favoritkategori. Ja, jag borde gjort mig själv en tjänst och läst den för länge sen. Jag antar att problemet med att ha dystopiska framtidsnoveller som favoritkategori är att det blir sjukt repetitivt väldigt snabbt. Har ni läst 1984, Fahrenheit 451, We, Brave New World osv så kan ni ju redan grejen med Kallocain.

Helena Frisk
En dystopi. Lättläst och bra, intressant att den är skriven 1940.
Švédske povinné čítanie, za ktoré by som sa momentálne aj pobila, len, aby bolo aj u nás niečo také (a keďže je to povinné čítanie, príde mi to občas až podhodnotené.

Pár faktov na úvod: Kniha z roku 1940 napísaná švédskou autorkou (osem rokov pred Orwelovým dielom 1984) v období postupu vojsk.
Druhá svetová vojna.
Autorka to písala, ako reakciu na udalosti ktorých bola svedkom,
rok po napísaní knihy sa obesila.

Mohla som si myslieť čokoľvek, ale nech to už vážne bolo čokoľvek.
Je to preč.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine these. 3 12 Jul 01, 2017 03:19AM  
  • Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem
  • Den allvarsamma leken
  • Röda rummet
  • Mina drömmars stad (Stadserien, #1)
  • The Settlers (The Emigrants, #3)
  • After the Flood
  • Gentlemen
  • The Dwarf
  • Det går an
  • My Mother Gets Married
  • Jerusalem
  • Pengar
  • Lasermannen: En berättelse om Sverige
  • Egenmäktigt förfarande
Karin Boye was a Swedish poet and novelist.

She is perhaps most famous for her poems, of which the most well-known ought to be "Yes, of course it hurts" (Swedish: "Ja visst gör det ont") and "In motion" (Swedish: "I rörelse"). She also wrote a few novels including "Kallocain". Inspired by the rise of National Socialism in Germany, it was a portrayal of a dystopian society in the vein of Orwell's Ni
More about Karin Boye...

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • These Vicious Masks
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1)
    $4.99 $2.49
  • Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Once Dead (The Rho Agenda Inception #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Door Within (The Door Within, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Harmony Black (Harmony Black, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Cloud Atlas
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Galápagos
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Thirteen
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Unspoken (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation, # 2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Mark of Fire (The Endarian Prophecy #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Star (The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Season of Fire (The Remnants, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Ladies of Mandrigyn (Sun Wolf and Starhawk, #1)
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Dreamsongs. Volume I (Dreamsongs, #1)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Lethal Velocity : A Novel
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Haunting Season
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Season of Wonder (The Remnants, #1)
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
“Ni bygger utifrån , vi byggs inifrån och in. Ni bygger med er själva som stenar och faller sönder utifrån och in. Vi bygger inifrån som träd, och det växer ut broar mellan oss som inte är död materia och dött tvång. Från oss går det levande ut. I er går det livlösa in, sid 75” 4 likes
“And is this not the very reason for the establishment of the State? If there were cause and reason for confidence among individuals, the State would never have come into existence. The sacred and essential foundation for the State is our mutual and well-founded suspicion of each other. Anyone questioning this foundation throws suspicion upon the State.” 4 likes
More quotes…