This article was originally published in The Continental Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1914. pp. 72-3.

AUGUST STRINDBERG, Sweden's greatest dramatist, was born at Stockholm in 1849. At an early age he entered the University of Upsala, but was unable to support himself and continue his studies at the same time; in 1870, however, he returned to the University. He then began writing plays, and in 1872 an important drama, Master Olaf, was offered for production, but it was for six years continually refused by the managers. The play, when it finally appeared, is said to have inaugurated Sweden's dramatic renaissance. Strindberg turned his hand to many things in these early years; he was shoolmaster, journalist, dramatist, writer of scientific and political treatises, and of short stories. In 1883 he left Sweden and traveled extensively in Denmark, Germany, France, and Italy, meantime publishing volumes of short stories, novels, and plays. The production of The Father in 1887 established his reputation as one of the most powerful dramatists of Europe. From that time on, his best plays, together with five autobiographical novels, followed. As a result of great intellectual strain and the painful proceedings incident to his divorce, Strindberg was forced to retire to a private sanitarium for over a year, but in 1897 he applied himself anew with added vigor to his work, and published a surprisingly large number of plays. He also established his Intimate Theater at Stockholm, where only his own plays were produced. In 1897, also, Strindberg returned to Sweden, where he remained until his death in 1912. He was married three times; each marriage ended in divorce.

Strindberg, judged by the great majority of his work, is a dramatist endowed with a trenchant and searching power of analysis and remarkable insight into human nature; his chief plays are exact though narrow views of the feminine soul. His own experience was so unfortunate that his bitterness takes the form of a wholesale indictment of the sex. So far as he goes, it must be admitted that he is in the main just, but he fails to observe a proper balance. In The Father, [Miss Julie], Creditors, and Comrades, he makes woman out a fiend incarnate. His greatest power lies in the portrayal of character, and the conflicts of human minds; he delights in showing ths superiority of one individual over another. The Father is a good example, but Creditors is perhaps the finest mental duel, so to speak, in the range of modern drama.


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