Features

October 2012

Strindberg's inferno

by Brooke Allen

On the life and legacy of August Strindberg, the Swedish artist whose variety is under-appreciated.

In twenty-first-century America, August Strindberg (1849–1912) is known as a “classic” writer, but his actual works are familiar primarily to drama students and nonprofit-theater directors. A few of Strindberg’s plays—Miss Julie, The Father, Master Olof, The Dance of Death, The Ghost Sonata, The Stronger—have worked their way into the canon. As much as their excellence, the fact that these works provide some powerful monologues for acting students has ensured their survival there. But does anyone outside of Sweden have any conception of Strindberg the satirist, the radical, the rebel, the humorist, the historian, the novelist, the feminist, the hypnotist, the painter, the photographer, the alchemist, the wild eccentric?

The last big biography of Strindberg was Michael Meyer’s in 1985, a hefty tome that concentrated largely on Strindberg the sexist, ra ...

Brooke Allen's latest book is Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers (Ivan R Dee). 


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 October 2012, on page 24

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