Johan August Strindberg

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Strindberg, Johan August


Born Jan. 22, 1849, in Stockholm; died there May 14, 1912. Swedish writer.

The son of a merchant of aristocratic origin and a domestic servant, Strindberg attended the University of Uppsala intermittently between 1867 and 1872. Under the influence of G. Brandes, Strindberg maintained in his senior thesis (1871), an essay on A. Oehlenschläager’s tragedy Hakon Jarl, and in the series of articles Perspectives (1872) that art must conform to the truth of reality. Strindberg’s historical drama on the Reformation in Sweden, Master Olof (first version, 1872; stage version, 1874; verse version, 1877), was akin in spirit to heroic sagas and to Shakespeare’s chronicles. The novel The Red Room (1879), a sweeping critique of bourgeois society that became a classic of Swedish critical realism, reflected Strindberg’s socialist sympathies. The novella The New Kingdom (1882) was a pointed satire of bourgeois civilization.

Persecuted by reactionary circles in Sweden, Strindberg spent the years between 1883 and 1898 traveling about Europe. In the short-story collection Married (1884–86) he denounced bourgeois marriage. The ideas of Rousseau, Saint-Simon, and Fourier and especially the views in N. G. Chernyshevkskii’s What Is to Be Done? were reflected in the short-story collection Utopias on Earth (1885).

The influence of naturalism and impressionism is very strong in Strindberg’s works of the late 1880’s, although Strindberg did not fully accept the aesthetics of these trends. The essay on naturalist drama that served as the preface to Strindberg’s play Miss Julie (1888) supported theatrical reform and established the principles of philosophical drama. Strindberg’s best naturalist plays, TheFather (1887), Miss Julie (1888), Comrades (1888), and Creditors (1889), were socially oriented psychological dramas.

Although Strindberg was influenced by modernism, he attacked the bourgeois way of life and continually strove for literary realism. His novel The People of Hemsö (1887) depicted the destruction of patriarchal life under the pressure of bourgeois civilization. Contemporary society and literary life were portrayed in the autobiographical novel Son of a Maidservant (1886–87). In 1888, Strindberg came under the influence of Nietzsche, as seen in the novel A Fool’s Defence (1888). However, although Strindberg exalted individualist scientists in the novella Tschandala (1889) and the novel By the Open Sea (1890), in the final analysis he revealed the superman to be amoral and criminal. The autobiographical Inferno (1897) and Legends (1898) were mystical in tone.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Strindberg wrote lyrical chamber plays, including the trilogy To Damascus (1898–1904), The Dance of Death (1901), A Dream Play (1902), and The Ghost Sonata (1907). His dream of an experimental theater was realized in 1907 with the opening of the Intima Theater in Stockholm, which staged his plays. The theater was in operation until 1910.

Strindberg’s plays reflected contemporary life and social contradictions. He wrote a number of historical dramas that affirmed the people’s dominance as just and lawful, including Gustavus Vasa and Erik XIV (both 1899), Engelbrekt and Charles XII (both 1901), and Christina (1903).

Strindberg’s prose of the 1900’s constituted a passionate condemnation of social vices and a quest for social ideals, as seen in the novels Alone (1903), Gothic Rooms (1904), and Black Banners (1905). His publicist writings, including Open Letters to the Intima Theater (1909), the three-volume The Blue Books (1907–08), and the collection Speeches to the Swedish Nation (1910), dealt with contemporary events and the emancipation and labor movements.

In the early 20th century, Strindberg and Ibsen were the foremost influences among the European intelligentsia, including Russian writers. The development of Strindberg’s work paralleled that of European art of the turn of the 20th century and thus became a symbol of contemporary literature. Strindberg influenced the plays of Maeterlinck and Pirandello and the aesthetics and works of I. Bergman, P. Lagerkvist, O’Neill, Anouilh, and Sartre. Brecht and Dürrenmatt have made use of Strindberg’s themes.


Samlade skrifter, vols. 1–55. Stockholm, 1912–20.
Brev, vols. 1–12. Stockholm, 1948–70.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–12. Moscow, 1908–11.
[Stat’i] In Khrestomatiiapo istorii zap. lealra na rubezhe X1X-XX vv. Moscow-Leningrad. 1939.


Brandes, G. “Avgust Strindberg.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. St. Petersburg [no date].
Lunacharskii, A. V. “Velikomuchenik individualizma (A. Strindberg).” In Meshchanstvo i individualizm. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Blok, A. Stat’i o Strindberge. In Sobr. soch., vol. 9. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Gorky, M. Sobr. soch. Vol. 24: Moscow, 1953, pp. 49, 468; vol. 28: Moscow, 1954, pp. 77–79; vol. 29: Moscow, 1955, p. 245.
Mann. T. “Avgust Strindberg.” Sobr. soch., vol. 10. Moscow, 1961.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.
Sharypkin, D. M. Russkaia literatura v skandinavskikh stranakh. Leningrad, 1975.
Berendsohn, W. Strindbergsproblem. Stockholm, 1946.
Brandell, G. Strindbergs Infernokris. Stockholm, 1950.
Hagsten, A. Den unge Strindberg, vols. 1–2. Lund, 1951.
Ollén, G. Strindbergs dramatik. Stockholm, 1961.
Lamm, M. August Strindberg. Stockholm, 1963.
Kärnell, K. A. Strindbergslexikon. Stockholm [1969].


References in periodicals archive ?
They all feature in the surreal but true comedy-romp centred around the exploits of August Strindberg - the three-times married Swedish dramatist and subject of the play written by renowned playwright Mark Jenkins.
The craziness of Hamlet's project in attempting to dramatize "that within which passeth show" is recapitulated in the brief correspondence between August Strindberg and Friedrich Nietzsche between November 1888 and January 1889.
This book is the second volume of a new edition of selected plays of August Strindberg.
The distinctive natural lighting, which lasts for up to 18 hours around the national holiday of Midsummer in June and as little as six hours in the snowy winter, has attracted generations of Swedish artists from August Strindberg to ABBA and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo author Stieg Larsson.
Lou knew and enchanted three of Mann's greatest artistic and intellectual heroes--Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud--and also head-hunted many of the leading writers of her time: Leo Tolstoy (whom she visited in Russia), August Strindberg, Knut Hamsun, Gerhart Hauptmann, Arthur Schnitzler, the predatory Frank Wedekind, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, her longtime lover Rainer Maria Rilke and the theologian Martin Buber.
Like his friends Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, he had a flair for drama, which he developed fully in sets with characters inside his paintings.
compassion for everybody within the system, regardless of their status, This is often expressed as a mild melancholy rather like when August Strindberg lets India's daughter sigh repeatedly, "Human beings are to be pitied.
I have located my work in the context of theatre practitioners such as August Strindberg and Brett Bailey, and their attempts to move beyond realism and towards a more mythical, ritualistic and expressionistic theatre style.
Those include a lithograph by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch of Swedish author August Strindberg -- a source of inspiration for Bergman -- as well as a black-and-white portrait of Bergman shot by US photographer Irving Penn and featuring a personal dedication.
Miller will star in the updated version of the August Strindberg classic, alongside Jonny Lee Miller, which is set to begin previews this month.
The play, by Patrick Marber of Closer and Notes On A Scandal fame, is a modern adaptation of the classic August Strindberg drama Miss Julie.
The garden is open to the public and divided into a sensory garden, a playground, a sports ground and a summer blossom garden named 'The Garden of Strindberg' after the famous Swedish writer August Strindberg who stayed there in the summer of 1888 and did some of his most famous writings at the place.