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Strindberg - Other Sides

Seven Plays- Translated and introduced by Joe Martin- with a Foreword by Björn Meidal

Joseph Martin

Strindberg - Other Sides: Seven Plays presents fresh translations based upon the new national Swedish edition of Strindberg's works, hewing close to Strindberg's techniques of «scoring» his scripts for actors and directors. The plays are illuminated in introductory essays revaluating Strindberg's role in transforming theatre (and art) with his extraordinary new forms. The Ghost Sonata is a keystone in the construction of the expressionist theatre; in The Pelican Strindberg goes «over the top» with his own form of psychological drama until it soars beyond the realm of realism; The Dance of Death is a battle of the sexes rendered absurd, as a series of games played against the void; and Carl XII is an epic play portraying the last months of the king who brought Sweden's history as a great power to an end. Three one-acts from the late 1880s foreshadow the striking ambiguity of Strindberg's later works.
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explain away the power and innovation in these works by labeling them "symbolist," which puts him in the wake of other less radical experimenters with theatrical form, instead of crediting him as a founder of the expres- xiv Strindberg: Other Sides sionist movement in the theatre-and of truly modem drama as well. The new national edition of Strindberg's extraordinary multifaceted writings will comprise seventy-five volumes when the process is finished, and will contain seventy-two plays: far more than Bentley seemed to be aware of when he tried to impress upon

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triumphant telegram was sent to Strindberg. "[The] performance of father in newyork is tremendously gripping growing in power with the public." But the reviewers were of another opinion: "Nothing is to viii Strindberg: Other Sides be hoped for from Sweden. The New York production of The Father was powerful but to the point of being repellant when considered as realism. It is hardly likely that our lack of playable drama will be filled by import from Sweden." The critic George Jean Nathan summed up the reception ironically: Strindberg, as my readers know, is a

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. His recent books include Keeper of the Protocols: The Works of fens Bjerneboe; a translation of Bjerneboe's Semmelweis; a novel, Foreigners; poetry, The Insomnia Suite; and a forthcoming volume of his own plays, Conspiracies: Six Plays. He is a professorial lecturer in theatre at American University, and is a faculty associate in the Johns Hopkins Masters in Drama Studies program. Strindberg- Other Sides: Seven Plays presents fresh translations based upon the new national Swedish edition of Strindberg's works , hewing close to Strindbeqf techniques of

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do apply to 1.0veid's work. There are not a few writers and theatre artists matching that description in Europe who claim a debt to Strindberg despite his "reputation." Cecilie Uveid, master 362 Strindberg: Other Sides class, Department of Performing Arts, American University, Washington, D.C.: September 11, 1992. 4. This has been Lagercrantz's argument throughout his work on Strind- berg, and is a core idea in his literary biography. In the early 1980s this very influential volume by one of the three most famous Strindberg "revisionists" (the others being

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his major naturalistic plays produced or published. The Father (Fadren) and Marodorer (Marauders), later 298 Strindberg: Other Sides developed into Comrades (Kamratemal had met with no success whatsoever since 1887, and in 1888 Miss Julie (Fraken Julie) and Creditors (Fordringsiigare), two more future Strindberg classics, met with the same resistance. After following Georg Brandes's reviews in the Danish daily Politiken (and perhaps those in Figaro in France) of the Theatre Libre's work over the course of a year, he decided to create an experimental theatre

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confessional prose works, which then generated an inner circle of refined dramatic works2-he drew clear lines from Strindberg to modernity. He 2 Strindberg: Other Sides employed chapter titles such as "From Strindberg to Jean-Paul Sartre," and "From Strindberg to Bertolt Brecht." Even some of the early works of Brecht echo Strindberg's expressionist period (as is the case with the battle of husband and wife at the end of The Wedding), and Brecht's Mother Courage might not have come to be had he not seen a production of Strindberg's work on the Thirty Years War

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say in terms of metaphysics, religion, social commentary and satire at the turn of the century. The Ghost Sonata is included in Strindberg's collected works as one of the "chamber plays," which Strindberg labeled as "opus" 1 26 Strindberg: Other Sides through 5. The first four were completed in 1907: Storm, The Burned House, The Ghost Sonata and The Pelican. The Black Glove was completed in 1909. The Ghost Sonata was designated "Opus 3." Music in fact provided a structuring element in all the chamber plays. In this case it was Beethoven's Piano Sonata in D

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critics of the period, he characteristically remarked: ‘Feldman based himself on Maria Herzfeld’s book Scandinavian Literature and Its Tendencies (Berlin 1898)’. 19 Among other individuals who contributed to the reception of Ibsen, Strindberg, and Scandinavian literature as a whole, Lewko also enumerated essays by Szymon Wollerner, Henryk Biegeleisen, and Ludomił German; while speaking of Wilhelm Feldman, he mentioned him as the author of the book Henryk Ibsen [Henrik Ibsen] (Warszawa 1906), not failing to mention Maria Rafałowiczówna’s Ze studiów nad Henrykiem

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collected material almost fully complete. However, the latter requires far-reaching reinterpretation and supplementation with an analysis of some major publications intentionally excluded from Lewko’s book or treated either too superficially or perfunctorily. Among the most important of these are studies, essays, or other papers translated from foreign languages which, much to my surprise, were not included in the Pol- ish reception of Ibsen and Strindberg. A separate question is that of the presence of Ibsenian or Strindbergian motifs in Polish literature during