Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Ghost Sonata and more . . .

Strindberg: Five Plays
Strindberg: Five Plays 

Death doesn't bargain.   --August Strindberg

A multi-faceted author, Strindberg was an author of extremes. His early plays belong to the Naturalistic movement. 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.
Strindberg wanted to attain what he called "greater Naturalism." He disliked the expository character backgrounds that characterise the work of Henrik Ibsen and rejected the convention of a dramatic "slice of life" because he felt that the resulting plays were mundane and uninteresting. Strindberg felt that true naturalism was a psychological "battle of brains": 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. He intended his plays to be impartial and objective, citing a desire to make literature akin to a science. 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, A Dream Play, and The Ghost Sonata are well-known plays from this period. His plays are what I would characterize as an "acquired taste", but the power of his drama is intense and worth exploring.

No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car.
-- August Strindberg

Illustration: Edvard Munch Portrait of August Strindberg, 1892, Museum of Modern Art,Stockholm, Sweden

Strindberg: Five Plays by August Strindberg. Signet Classics, 1984 (1960)

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