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Johan August Strindberg ( (22 January 1849 – 14 May 1912) was a Swedishmarker playwright and writer. He is arguably the most influential of all Swedish authors, and one of the most influential Scandinavian authors, along with Knut Hamsun, with whom he fraternized while in Paris during the mid 1890s, Henrik Ibsen, Søren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen. Strindberg is known as one of the developers of modern theatre. His work is of two major literary styles, Naturalism and Expressionism.

Biography

Early years

Strindberg was the third son of Carl Oscar Strindberg, a shipping agent, and Ulrika Eleonora (Nora) Norling. Ulrika was twelve years Carl's junior and of humble origin, called a "domestic servant woman" by Strindberg.He used this expression in the title of his autobiographical novel, Tjänstekvinnans son (The Son of a Servant). Strindberg's paternal grandfather Zacharias was born during 1758 to a clergyman in Jämtlandmarker and settled in Stockholmmarker, where he became a successful spice tradesman and a major of the Burghers' Military Corps. Strindberg's aunt Johanna Magdalena Elisabeth Strindberg (1797-1880), also called "Lisette", was married to the inventor and industrialist Samuel Owen (born 1774 in Norton-in-Hales, Shropshire, England, died February 15, 1854 in Stockholm) who went to Sweden during 1804 to help with the installation of the first steam engines for industrial use in Sweden and later during 1806 set up his own workshop 'Kungsholms Mekaniska Verkstad' in Stockholm. Carl Oscar Strindberg's older brother Johan Ludvig Strindberg was a successful businessman, the model for the protagonist Arvid Falk's wealthy and socially ambitious uncle in Strindberg's novel Röda rummet (The Red Room)Strindberg's own version of his childhood is available in his novel The Son of a Servant, but at least one of his biographers, Olof Lagercrantz, warns against its use as a biographical source. Much of what Strindberg wrote has an autobiographical character, but Lagercrantz notes Strindberg's "talent to make us believe what he wants us to believe," and his unwillingness to accept any characterization of his person other than his own.

From the age of seven, Strindberg matured in the Norrtull area on the northern, almost-rural periphery of Stockholm, not far from Tegnérlundenmarker, the park where Carl Eldh's grand statue of Strindberg was later placed. He went to the elementary schools of Klara and Jakob parishes, continuing to the Stockholms Lyceum, a progressive private school for middle-class boys. He completed his graduation exam studentexamen on May 25, 1867, and matriculated at the University of Uppsalamarker in the autumn.

Career

Strindberg would spend the next years in Uppsalamarker and Stockholm, alternately studying for exams and trying his hand at non-academic pursuits. As a young student, Strindberg also worked as an assistant in a chemist's shop in the university town of Lundmarker in southern Sweden. He first left Uppsala during 1868 to work as a schoolteacher, but then studied chemistry for some time at the Institute of Technologymarker in Stockholm in preparation for medical studies, later working as a private tutor before becoming an extra at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm. He returned to Uppsala during January 1870 to study and work on a set of plays, the first of which began at the Royal Theatre during September 1870, a biography of the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In Uppsala, he started Runa, a small literary club with friends who all took pseudonyms from Nordic mythology; Strindberg called himself Frö after the god of fertility. He spent a few more semesters in Uppsala, finally leaving during March 1872 without graduating. He would often ridicule Uppsala and its professors, as when he published Från Fjerdingen och Svartbäcken ("From Fjerdingen and Svartbäcken", 1877), short stories describing Uppsala student life. After leaving university for the last time, he embarked on his career as a journalist and critic for newspapers in Stockholm.

Politics

The history of the Paris Commune during 1871 caused young Strindberg to develop the opinion that politics is a conflict between the upper- and lower classes. He was admired by many as a radical writer. He was a socialist (or perhaps more of an anarchist, which he himself claimed on at least one occasion ). Strindberg's political opinions nevertheless changed considerably within this category over the years, and he was never primarily a political writer. Nor did he often campaign for any one issue, preferring instead to scorn his enemies manifesto-style— the military, the church, the monarchy, the politicians, the stingy publishers, the incompetent reviewers, the narrow-minded, the idiots —and he was not loyal to any party or ideology. Many of his works however had at least some politics and sometimes an abundance of it. They often displayed the conviction that life and the prevailing system was profoundly unjust and injurious to ordinary citizens.

The changing nature of his political positions is perhaps illustrable by the women's rights issue. Early on, Strindberg was sympathetic to women of 19th-century Sweden, calling for women's suffrage as early as 1884. However, during other periods he had wildly misogynistic opinions, calling for lawmakers to reconsider the emancipation of these "half-apes ... mad ... criminal, instinctively evil animals". This has become controversial in contemporary assessments of Strindberg, as have his antisemitic descriptions of Jews (and, in particular, Jewish enemies of his in Swedish cultural life) in some works (eg. Det nya riket), particularly during the early 1880s. Strindberg's antisemitic pronouncements, just like his opinions of women, have been debated, and also seem to have varied considerably. Many of these attitudes, passions and behaviours may have been developed for literary reasons and ended as soon as he had exploited them in books.

In satirizing Swedish society—in particular the upper classes, the cultural and political establishment, and his many personal and professional foes—he could be very confrontational, with scarcely-concealed caricatures of political opponents. This could take the form of brutal character disparagement or mockery, and while the presentation was generally skilful, it was not necessarily subtle.

His daughter Karin Strindberg married a Russian Bolshevik of partially Swedish ancestry Vladimir Martynovich Smirnov ("Paulsson"). Because of his political views, Strindberg was promoted strongly in socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the Soviet Unionmarker and Cubamarker.

Writing

A multi-faceted author, Strindberg was often extreme. His novel The Red Room (Röda rummet) (1879) made him famous. His early plays were written in the Naturalistic style. His works from this time are often compared with the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Strindberg's best-known play from this period is Miss Julie (Fröken Julie). His most popular and maybe his best novel is Natives of Hemsö (Hemsöborna).

Strindberg wanted to attain what he called "Greater Naturalism." He did not prefer expository character backgrounds seen in the work of Ibsen, or write plays that gave his audiences a "slice of life" because he felt that these plays were mundane and uninteresting. Strindberg felt that true naturalism was a psychological battle of brains (hjärnornas kamp). Two people who hate each other in the immediate moment and strive to drive the other to doom is the type of mental hostility that Strindberg strove to describe. Furthermore, he intended his plays to be impartial and objective, citing a desire to make literature somewhat of a science.

Later, he had a time of inner turmoil known as the "Inferno Period", which culminated in the production of a book written in French, Inferno. He also exchanged a few cryptic letters with Nietzsche.

Strindberg subsequently ended his association with Naturalism and began to produce works informed by Symbolism. He is considered one of the pioneers of the Modern European stage and Expressionism. The Dance of Death (Dödsdansen), A Dream Play (Ett drömspel) and The Ghost Sonata (Spöksonaten) are well-known plays from this period.

One year before his death, his main book publisher Albert Bonniers förlag bought the rights to all his writings for 200,000 Swedish crowns, a fortune at that time, which Strindberg shared with his children.

Other interests

Strindberg, something of a polymath, was also a telegrapher, painter, photographer and alchemist.

Painting and photography offered venues for his belief that chance played a crucial part in the creative process. Strindberg's paintings were unique for their time, and went beyond those of his contemporaries for their radical lack of adherence to visual reality. The 117 paintings that are acknowledged as his, were mostly painted within the span of a few years, and are now seen by some as among the most original works of nineteenth century art. Today, his best-known pieces are stormy, expressionist seascapes, selling at high prices in auction houses. Though Strindberg was friends with Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin, and was thus familiar with modern trends, the spontaneous and subjective expressiveness of his landscapes and seascapes can be ascribed also to the fact that he painted only in periods of personal crisis.File:The Town, 1903.jpg|The Town, 1903File:A Coast, 1903.jpg|A Coast, 1903File:The White Mare II, 1892.jpg|The White Mare II, 1892File:Seascape, 1894.jpg|Seascape, 1894His interest in photography resulted, among other things, in a large number of arranged self-portraits in various environments, which now number among the best-known pictures of Strindberg.

Alchemy, occultism, Swedenborgianism, and various other eccentric interests were pursued by Strindberg with some intensity for periods of his life. In the curious autobiographical work Inferno—a paranoid and confusing tale of his years in Paris, written in French—he claims to have successfully performed alchemical experiments and cast black magic spells on his daughter.

Personal life

Strindberg was married three times, to Siri von Essen (1850–1912), Frida Uhl (1872–1943), and Harriet Bosse (1878–1961). He had children with all his wives. Late during his life he met the young actress and painter Fanny Falkner (1890–1963), whose book illuminates his last years, but the exact nature of their relationship is debated. He had a brief affair in Berlin with Dagny Juel before his marriage to Frida; it has been suggested that the news of her murder was the reason he cancelled his honeymoon with his third wife, Harriet.

Strindberg's relationships with women were troubled and have often been interpreted as misogynistic by contemporaries and modern readers. Most acknowledge, however, that he had uncommon insight into the hypocrisy of his society's gender roles and sexual morality. Marriage and families were being stressed in Strindberg's lifetime as Sweden industrialized and urbanized at a rapid pace. Problems of prostitution and poverty were debated among writers, critics and politicians. His early writing often dealt with the traditional roles of the sexes imposed by society, which he criticized as unjust.

Strindberg's last home was Blå tornetmarker in central Stockholm, where he lived from 1908 until 1912. Now it is a museum.

By the end of his life Strindberg had become a religious Christian again, writing religious works inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg.

During Christmas 1911, Strindberg became sick with pneumonia, and he never recovered completely. At this time he also started to suffer from a stomach disease, presumably cancer. He died during May 1912 at the age of 63. Strindberg was interred in the Norra begravningsplatsenmarker in Stockholm, and thousands of people followed his corpse during the funeral proceedings.

Several statues and busts of him have been erected in Stockholm, the most prominent of which is Carl Eldh's, erected in 1942 in Tegnérlundenmarker, a park next to the house where Strindberg lived the last years of his life.

Bibliography

Strindberg wrote 58 plays and an autobiography (9 volumes, A Soul's Advance, 1886-1903)

Drama



:The Nightingale of Wittenberg
:Through Deserts to Ancestral Lands
:Hellasmarker
:The Lamb and the Beast
:The Storm
:The Burned Site
:The Pelican
:The Ghost Sonata


Poetry, fiction, and autobiography





In popular culture



  • Strindberg's play The Father was mentioned in "The West Coast Delay", an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, in a discussion between Nate Corddry and Matthew Perry. Corddry calls it the "scariest play I ever read" and used it to give advice on Perry's relationship troubles. Strindberg was also named on 30 Rock, NBC's other show dealing with the behind-the-scenes drama at an SNL-esque show.






  • In a popular Hindi novel A Torn Happiness by Nirmal Verma, Strindberg looms large over the heads of many characters.


  • In the Woody Allen movie Manhattanmarker; Woody Allen's character, Issac Davis states: "When it comes to relationships with women, I'm the winner of the August Strindberg Award."


  • In the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, the line "So keep your Strindbergs and Ibsens at bay" is present in the song, "Keep It Gay".


  • A track featured on the album Eli by artists Jan Akkerman and Kaz Lux was written as a tribute to Strindberg's works.


  • In the French film Jules and Jim, the main characters watch one of Strindberg's plays, influencing a change in one of the characters.


  • August Strindberg was indirectly referenced in a song by Amanda Palmer titled "Strength Through Music", which contains an audio clip of a web cartoon called Strindberg and Helium. The cartoon almost exclusively quotes Strindberg's work.


Gallery

Image:August Strindberg photographic selfportrait 1.jpg|August Strindberg as a young adult.Image:August_Strindberg_photographic_selfportrait_2.jpg|August Strindberg, photographic self-portrait.Image:Portrait of August Strindberg by Richard Bergh 1905.jpg|A portrait of August Strindberg by Richard Bergh (1905).

References

Sources

  • Ekman, Hans-Göran. 2000. Strindberg and the Five Senses: Studies in Strindberg's Chamber Plays. London and New Brunswick, NJ: Athlone. ISBN 0485115522.
  • Lagercrantz, Olof. 1984. August Strindberg. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. ISBN 0374106851.
  • Martinus, Eivor, trans. 1987. Motherly Love / Pariah / The First Warning. By August Strindberg. Oxford: Amber Lane. ISBN 0906399793.
  • Strindberg, August. 1990. The Great Highway. Absolute Classics ser. Bath: Absolute. ISBN 0948230282.
  • Meyer, Michael. 1985. Strindberg: A Biography. Oxford Lives ser. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987. ISBN 019281995X.
  • Sandbach, Mary, trans. 1984. By The Open Sea. By August Strindberg. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1987. ISBN 0140444882.
  • Ward, John. 1980. The Social and Religious Plays of Strindberg. London: Athlone. ISBN 0485111837.
  • Paulson, Arvid, trans. 1970. World Historical Plays. By August Strindberg. New York: Twayne Publishers & The American-Scandinavian Foundation. ISBN 1135841403.


External links




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