Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Strindberg, August

(1849-1912) Swedish novelist and dramatist, intensely prolific (he wrote at least 70 plays) and controversial. His early work, both in fiction and in the theatre, tended to a heated naturalism in which increasingly savage passions (often described simplistically as misogyny) were let loose. From the 1890s on, the Expressionist violence of his writing allows a fantastic reading of ostensibly autobiographical sketches like Inferno (1897; trans Claud Field as The Inferno 1912 UK) and Legenden (1898; trans as Legends 1912 UK). A play like Till Damaskus (Parts I and II 1898; Part III 1901-1904; trans as To Damascus 1933-1935 UK) features a number of figures whose apparent identities dissolve into raging Archetype, and several of whom act as Shadows of one another: it is a fine example of the drama of Jungian Psychology – though it was, of course, written long before Jung created his dramaturgy of the unconscious. Other plays of a similar intensity include Ett drömspel (1902; trans as A Dream Play 1912 UK; new trans Elizabeth Sprigge 1963 UK), which is dominated by a compassionate Goddess figure, and Spöksonaten (1907; trans as The Spook Sonata 1916; new trans Elizabeth Sprigge as The Ghost Sonata 1963 UK), an extraordinary presentation of a Dream whose actors become terrifyingly real and archetypal simultaneously. [JC]

August Strindberg


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.