Seven Plays- Translated and introduced by Joe Martin- with a Foreword by Björn Meidal
Introduction: Strindberg—A Revaluation 1
INTRODUCTION: STRINDBERG-A REVALUATION 1. MosT every devotee of the theatre knows August Strindberg as an unbalanced Swede who, driven by problems with his mother, and women in general, wrote two brilliant plays-The Father and Miss Julie. They might even be aware that Henrik Ibsen-the dramatist whom Strindberg found himself reacting against more often than not-kept Strindberg's portrait on the wall above his desk because of the power of his "mad eyes." Although on the one hand his plays are considered a sine qua non in any library of dramatic literature, the works of this "madman and misogynist" are not often cracked open, but are left standing on the shelf for fear of the sulphur fumes which might inundate the atmosphere of "correct" intellectual discourse. How many are aware that George Bernard Shaw left a portion of his estate to ensure that translations of Strindberg's works would be produced in English? Or that Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams later claimed Strindberg as their single most important influence? O'Neill in fact was partly responsible for the introduction of Strindberg's work to an American public, and dedicated much of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech to his literary mentor. In the late 1940s Eric Bentley, in his classic work The Playwright as Thinker, made Strindberg the pillar sustaining his discussion of modem playwrights, remarking, "If it be asked how a major modem writer can be so little known, I can only reply that I do not know. . . . The distribution of fame is capricious ... "1...
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