Miss Julie and Other Plays

Miss Julie and Other Plays

Miss Julie and Other Plays

Miss Julie and Other Plays

Synopsis

The Father; A Dream Play; Miss Julie; The Ghost Sonata; The Dance of Death`Ibsen can sit serenely in his Doll's House,' Sean O'Casey remarked, `while Strindberg is battling with his heaven and his hell.'Strindberg was one of the most extreme, and ultimately the most influential theatrical innovators of the late nineteenth century. The five plays translated here are those on which Strindberg's international reputation as a dramatist principally rests and this edition embraces his crucial transition from Naturalism to Modernism, from his two finest achievements as a psychological realist, The Father and Miss Julie, to the three plays in which he redefined the possibilities of European dramafollowing his return to the theatre in 1898. Michael Robinson's highly performable translations are based on the authoritative texts of the new edition of Strindberg's collected works in Sweden and include the Preface to Miss Julie, Strindberg's manifesto of theatrical naturalism.Introduction Textual Note Bibliography Chronology Explanatory Notes

Excerpt

In Sweden, Strindberg literary breakthrough came not with a play, but with The Red Room, a satirical novel, published in 1879. This often amusing Dickensian narrative was remarkable at the time for the immediacy of its language, its impressionist cityscapes of Stockholm on the cusp of modernity, and the candour with which it portrayed different aspects of late-nineteenth-century Swedish society. But while it is still widely regarded as the first authentically modern work in Swedish literature, it remains largely unknown outside Scandinavia. This is unfortunate since, in being both amusing and prose fiction, it challenges the received image ofStrindberg as the self-obsessed and self-dramatizing author of a few bleak plays which sometimes make for effective theatre, but which are otherwise flawed by their author's pathological misogyny, his abiding failure to distinguish himself and the often mundane events of his life from his writing and thus achieve the balance necessary to successful art, and by an unstable temperament that all too often degenerates into real mental illness. In fact this is an alarmingly partial view which, ironically, fails to distinguish between the writer and his work, and assumes that because the protagonist of a play like The Father or the narrator of an autobiographical fiction like Inferno is arguably deranged, their author must be too.

Alongside the plays, a comprehensive introduction to Strindberg's work would therefore need to assess his achievements in many other fields--as a novelist, short-story writer, historian, poet, autobiographer, essayist--and to recognize that in every one of these genres he demonstrates an artistry that goes far beyond what is often regarded as merely the direct transposition of his lived experience into words. It would need, too, to consider his work as a painter, which not only contributed much to the development of his new writing style in the mid-1890s but also commands attention in its own right for the way in which it foreshadowed developments in modern art.

Nevertheless, Strindberg's international reputation undoubtedly rests upon his plays, especially the five translated here. Like most nineteenth-century Scandinavian dramatists, includingIbsen, he began by writing plays on historical subjects, and his early . . .

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