August Strindberg biography

August Strindberg

Playwright, Author

1849 – 1912


Who was August Strindberg?

Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics. A bold experimenter and iconoclast throughout, he explored a wide range of dramatic methods and purposes, from naturalistic tragedy, monodrama, and history plays, to his anticipations of expressionist and surrealist dramatic techniques. From his earliest work, Strindberg developed forms of dramatic action, language, and visual composition so innovative that many were to become technically possible to stage only with the advent of film. He is considered the "father" of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel.

In Sweden Strindberg is known both as a novelist and a playwright, but in most other countries he is known almost exclusively as a playwright.

The Royal Theatre rejected his first major play, Master Olof, in 1872; it was not until 1881, at the age of 32, that its première at the New Theatre gave him his theatrical breakthrough. In his plays The Father, Miss Julie, and Creditors, he created naturalistic dramas that – building on the established accomplishments of Henrik Ibsen's prose problem plays while rejecting their use of the structure of the well-made play — responded to the call-to-arms of Émile Zola's manifesto "Naturalism in the Theatre" and the example set by André Antoine's newly established Théâtre Libre. In Miss Julie, characterisation replaces plot as the predominant dramatic element and the determining role of heredity and the environment on the "vacillating, disintegrated" characters is emphasized. Strindberg modelled his short-lived Scandinavian Experimental Theatre in Copenhagen on Antoine's theatre and he explored the theory of Naturalism in his essays "On Psychic Murder", "On Modern Drama and the Modern Theatre", and a preface to Miss Julie, the last of which is probably the best-known statement of the principles of the theatrical movement.

Famous Quotes:

  • In the old days, one married a wife; now one forms a company with a female partner, or moves in to live with a friend. And then one seduces the partner, or defiles the friend.
  • I hated her now with a hatred more fatal than indifference because it was the other side of love.
  • Why is it so painful to watch a person sink? Because there is something unnatural in it, for nature demands personal progress, evolution, and every backward step means wasted energy.
  • What an occupation! To sit and flay your fellow men and then offer their skins for sale and expect them to buy them.
  • I always disliked dogs, those protectors of cowards who lack the courage to fight an assailant themselves.
  • I dream, therefore I exist.
  • Happiness consumes itself like a flame. It cannot burn for ever, it must go out, and the presentiment of its end destroys it at its very peak.
  • People are constantly clamoring for the joy of life. As for me, I find the joy of life in the hard and cruel battle of life -- to learn something is a joy to me.
  • Friendship can only exist between persons with similar interests and points of view. Man and woman by the conventions of society are born with different interests and different points of view.
  • Sorrow has the fortunate peculiarity that it preys upon itself. It dies of starvation. Since it is essentially an interruption of habits, it can be replaced by new habits. Constituting, as it does, a void, it is soon filled up by a real horror vacuum.


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"August Strindberg." STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Jan. 2021. <>.

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Jan 22, 1849
Also known as
  • Johan August Strindberg
  • Swedes
  • Sweden
  • Uppsala University
    Modern language
    (1867/09/13 - )
  • Aesthetics
  • Royal Institute of Technology
  • Stockholms Lyceum
    (1861 - )
Lived in
  • Paris
May 14, 1912
Resting place
Norra Begravningsplatsen

on July 23, 2013

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