August Strindberg

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August Strindberg around 1900 Strindberg's signature in 1898

Johan August Strindberg [ ˌoːgɵst ˈstrindbærʝ ] (born January 22, 1849 in Stockholm ; † May 14, 1912 there ) was a Swedish writer and artist . He is considered one of the most important Swedish authors, especially his dramas are world famous. From the 1870s until his death he dominated the literary scene in Sweden, was controversial and often involved in personal conflicts. His extensive literary work includes novels , short stories and dramas that are among the classics of Swedish literature .


Childhood and youth

Johan August Strindberg was born in Stockholm as the fourth of eight children of the steamship commissioner Carl Oscar Strindberg and the former domestic worker and twelve years younger Ulrika Eleonora (Nora) Norling. Strindberg's paternal aunt, Lisette Strindberg, was the wife of steamship pioneer Samuel Owen . The family led a middle class life. Due to the economic fluctuations of her father's ship agency, she was forced to move numerous apartments. Strindberg moved ten times in the 20 years he lived with the family.

August Strindberg, "drawn by his old friend Carl Larsson " in 1899

Education and art were cultivated in the home, albeit to a modest extent. The father played the piano and cello and house music evenings were held regularly. The family also came into contact with the theater - the nephew Ludvig Strindberg was an actor and often came to visit. Strindberg's artistic interests were awakened some time later. In his childhood he was the only one in the family who did not master an instrument. Strindberg is described as a shy, withdrawn child who took an early interest in science. He paid attention to good clothing throughout his life. His views on marriage and the family were considered to be as strict as those of his father. He later describes his mother in Tjänstekvinnans son (1886–1909, The Son of a Maid ) as a friendly but also very sensitive woman.

In 1853 the father's company went bankrupt, but was able to recover very quickly afterwards. In 1856 the family moved from the Klaraviertel to the rural north of Stockholm, and later even further to the countryside. Strindberg initially went on to the strictly managed and now quite distant Klaraschule. In 1860 he came to the nearby Jakobschule, where, according to his own account, he first became aware of social differences. From 1861 Strindberg attended the private Stockholm Lyceum - a liberally run grammar school. He was particularly enthusiastic about natural history and especially French.

In 1862 Strindberg's mother died of tuberculosis . The difficult relationship with the father only improved briefly during the time of mourning. With the father's remarriage - he married the 22-year-old educator of the children, Emma Charlotta Petterson - and the birth of their son Emil, family relationships became increasingly strained. Strindberg's puberty consequently turned out to be extremely difficult. He withdrew into pietism , with which he had first come into contact through his mother, and practiced religious abstinence.

The path to becoming a writer

Self portrait
August Strindberg 1886 in Gersau (Switzerland)

In May 1867 Strindberg passed his Abitur and matriculated in Uppsala to study “Aesthetics and Living Languages”. In addition to trying to earn money as a sniper and preacher, he was mainly active as a primary school teacher and tutor. In addition, he soon took up a medical degree, but broke off the studies in 1869 to try a career as an actor. Due to a lack of success, he decided in 1870 to continue his studies in Uppsala. Strindberg began writing while he was a student. After two years, his financial situation forced him to quit his studies for good and return to the capital, where he tried to find a job as a journalist. The first version of Mäster Olof ( Master Olof ) was created during this time. In 1873 he worked as an editor for the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter . A year later he got a job as a secretary at the Royal Library, which lasted until 1882.

Strindberg's literary breakthrough came in 1879 with the publication of Röda rummet ( The Red Room ), a satirical social novel, and the performance of Master Olof (about the Swedish reformer Olaus Petri ).

Marriage to Siri von Essen

In 1877 Strindberg married Siri von Essen , a Finland- Swede , an actress at the Royal Theater . With her he had three children, the two daughters Karin (* 1880) and Greta (* 1881) and the son Hans (* 1884).

During the following years he wrote the historical work Svenska folket ( The Swedish people ) and the novel Det nya riket (The new empire). These works were written in a realistic style and in principle criticized all social institutions. As a result of the harsh criticism in Sweden, Strindberg felt compelled to leave the country in 1883 and settled in France . Together with Siri and the children he joined the Scandinavian artist colony in Grez-sur-Loing, France .

Blasphemy charges

In 1884 the collection of short stories Giftas ( Marriage ) was published. The first part of the Dygdens lön ( reward of virtue ) led to an indictment of "blasphemy and derision of the Holy Scriptures and the sacraments". The process is called Giftasprocessen in Swedish . In the story, Strindberg told of the consequences of wrong upbringing and religious tension, especially the portrayal of confirmation as a “shocking act”, “by which the upper class takes the oath from the lower class on Christ's body and word that they will not care what that does, ”provoked the prosecution. Strindberg, living in Geneva at the time , had to appear in court in Stockholm. Rallies were held on his arrival and a gala performance of Glückspeter's journey was shown with great success. Workers' organizations and academics spoke out in favor of the writer. In the end, the court acquitted Strindberg, whereupon he returned to Switzerland. Despite the acquittal, however, the charges were not without negative consequences for him. In Sweden they lost interest in Strindberg, who is now turning away from his home country for the time being.

Other works also made Strindberg known throughout Europe as a misogynist . During his stay abroad, Strindberg continued to write and publish autobiographical novels. a. The son of a maid and En dåres försvarstal (1895, The Confession of a Fool ), plays such as Fadren (1887, The Father ) and Fröken Julie (1889, Miss Julie ) as well as socially critical novels such as Utopier i verkligheten (1885, Utopias in Reality ) .

On a trip to Copenhagen for the performance of Der Vater , he met Georg Brandes , who put him in contact with Friedrich Nietzsche by letter .

He stayed abroad until the end of 1889 and finally returned to Stockholm. His marriage to Siri von Essen had become more and more tense during this time, which was also reflected in the portraits of women in his novels. August and Siri divorced in 1891. Siri received the right to bring up their children. For Strindberg, the departure was accompanied by an artistic crisis. He moved to Berlin in 1892 , where he met Edvard Munch and Ola Hansson , among others . The wine bar “ Zum schwarzen Ferkel ” played a central role. It became a meeting place for an international bohemian artist.

Short marriage to Frida Uhl

At the beginning of 1893 Strindberg met the twenty-year-old journalist Maria Friederike (Frida) Uhl from Austria . A few months later, the two married on Heligoland . Numerous arguments and quarrels accompanied the relationship, so that in the same year there was a final break between Strindberg and Uhl. It was not until 1897 that the marriage was legally divorced.

Strindberg stayed temporarily with his family in Austria from 1893 to 1896 and from 1893 lived in Dornach Castle in the municipality of Saxen . Later he moved with his pregnant wife from the castle to the so-called Häusl, where his daughter Kerstin was born in May 1894. During family disputes, Strindberg left Dornach and temporarily lived in Klam in the Rosenzimmer, a corner room at the Kirchenwirt's. The Klamer district on the hilltop was called Strindberg. A memorial plaque has been placed on the basement of the house in the park opposite.

The Strindbergmuseum Saxen is the only museum outside of Sweden dedicated to the author and deals with his stay in the area and the works created in connection with it. On display are a number of original letters and manuscripts, contemporary photos and the piano he bought at the time. The Strindbergweg- Klamschlucht cultural hiking trail leads from Saxen to Klam. The path leads past a romantic waterfall, which the author, who was also a painter, served as a model for one of his pictures. Other motifs found their way into his novels, such as the hammer forge, the Leostein, the Bergmayr mill and the pig stables.

Inferno Crisis (1895-1897)

After his marriage to Frida Uhl, Strindberg went through a very dark phase in his life, in which he suffered from delusions , loss of reality and depression . It is called "Inferno Crisis" because Strindberg processed the experiences of this time, especially in the novel Inferno, Legender (1897, Inferno. Legends ) in the form of autobiographical, partially transfigured records. It is also the time when Strindberg began to make scientific and alchemical experiments.

In a way, he managed to “write freely” and thus overcome his psychological crisis. In the following six years he wrote more than 25 pieces.

The productive years

In the period between 1898 and 1907, Strindberg's writing was reoriented: from anarchism , realism and naturalism to mysticism , symbolism and occultism . The dramas he wrote during this period had a lasting impact on European theater history in the 20th century. Above all, there are:

During this time Strindberg also wrote several historical dramas inspired by William Shakespeare with characters from Swedish history: Gustav Vasa (1899), Erik XIV (1899), Karl XII and Gustav Adolf (1900).

With Svarta fanor (1907, Black flags ) he wrote a piece about the cultural establishment of the capital in general and the younger generation of authors in particular. In 1906 the late novellas Takslagsöl ( topping-out ceremony ) and Syndabocken ( The Scapegoat ) were written. In 1904 Götiska rummen ( The Gothic Rooms ) appeared. He also wrote a number of chamber games (1907): Oväder ( lightning ), Brända tomten ( The conflagration ) and pelicans ( The Pelican , in German also the stake ). This series also includes the already mentioned work Spöksonaten ( The Ghost Sonata), which is his “most bizarre symbolic poem”.

Strindberg was a famous writer now, which didn't prevent him from being financially in crisis and continuing to revolt against anything and everything. In 1897 he decided to be reconciled with his country and moved to Lund . There he came into contact with the poet Emil Kléen through Bengt Lidforss , one of the few acquaintances with whom Strindberg remained friends. The following year he moved to Östermalm in Stockholm.

Third marriage to Harriet Bosse

Harriet Bosse

In 1900 Strindberg met the young actress Harriet Bosse (1878–1961) at a performance of the Midsummer Night's Dream , in which she played the role of the puck. Fascinated by her exotic appearance, he offered her the role of the lady in his drama To Damascus . After the premiere, he wrote enthusiastically about her performance: “Become the actress of the new century with us now! You gave us new tones, no matter where you got them from. "

Strindberg and Bosse married on May 6, 1901. The following year, daughter Anne-Marie was born († August 17, 2007 as Anne-Marie Hagelin at the age of 105). The marriage with Bosse lasted until 1904. The reason for the separation was not least the large age difference, combined with different ideas about living together. Bosse felt imprisoned and believed that Strindberg would have to give up her claims to life. Strindberg found the separation difficult; he suffered from hallucinations and erotic delusions and kept sending her letters. Only when Bosse married the Swedish actor Gunnar Wingård in 1908 did the relationship finally come to an end. In the occult diary , Strindberg processed his marriage to bosses.

The Intimate Theater in Stockholm

The founding of the Intimate Theater on November 26, 1907 in Stockholm, where he enthusiastically contributed as a founder, dramaturge and director, was of particular importance to Strindberg . He also wrote numerous pieces especially for the stage of the theater.

Max Reinhardt provided the German model in 1902 when he founded his “Small Theater”. The author's breakthrough in Germany was achieved with a series of Strindberg pieces.

The last few years

In 1908 Strindberg moved to Drottninggatan 85 , in the so-called "Blue Tower", where the Strindberg Museum and the headquarters of the Strindberg Society is today. In the “Blue Tower” he was in contact with Siri and their children again, whom he also supported financially. He met Bernhard Shaw and had one last romance with the young artist Fanny Falkner , whom he also employed as a secretary.

During his last years he took up the socially critical section again, which sparked a very intense debate. Strindberg became an icon of the labor movement , especially the radical group around the Stormklockan newspaper and their struggle against conservative and liberal voices. In his last works, En blå bok ( A Blue Book , 1907) and the station drama Stora landsvägen ( The Great Road , 1909), Strindberg criticized science and took a stand for religion. Internal disputes led to the closure of the Intimate Theater in 1911.

Strindberg increasingly suffered from illnesses because he was suffering from stomach cancer. He said goodbye to life with the moving words "Now everything personal is destroyed", whereupon he put a Bible on his chest. Strindberg died on May 14, 1912 - barely a month after the death of his first wife, Siri von Essen. He was buried in Stockholm in the north cemetery Norra begravningsplatsen ( kvarter 13A, grave no. 101). The funeral procession included about 60,000 people. O crux ave spes unica (O cross, hail, my only hope) can be read on the simple black wooden cross.

Before Strindberg's death, Albert Bonniers Verlag had bought the rights to Strindberg's collected works. Karl Otto Bonnier had initially offered 150,000 crowns for Strindberg's work (but without foreign rights). Strindberg rejected the bid after Bonnier had paid 100,000 crowns for Gustaf Fröding's collected works (six collections of poetry). When Bonnier increased the bid to 200,000 crowns, Strindberg struck. The publisher then also bought the rights that Strindberg had sold to others, bringing the total to almost 300,000 kroner. After Strindberg's death, Bonniers Verlag published Strindberg's Gesammelte Schriften in 55 volumes. During the first 20 years after his death, the publisher sold 1.7 million copies of Strindberg's books. Between 1912 and 1927 the publisher sold Strindberg's books for almost 10 million crowns.

Literary classification


Strindberg wrote more than 60 dramas, ten novels, ten collections of novels and at least 8,000 letters. That makes him without a doubt one of Sweden's most prolific writers. Strindberg encompassed all the major currents of ideas that existed at the end of the 19th century. He renewed the Swedish prose by replacing the declamatory and rhetorical language of the older prose with colloquial language and sharp observations directly from everyday life. In addition, Strindberg was possibly of the highest importance as a playwright for his time: He was inspired by Shakespeare and his rapid change of scene. Strindberg also revolutionized drama by letting the actors use natural slang. The plot in his plays typically moves in a historical setting and illustrates class struggle and psychological positional warfare.

Strindberg is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern European theater of the 20th century, especially with his dramas Miss Julie and the trilogy After Damascus . He should be mentioned in the same breath as the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen and the Russian Anton Chekhov . In the German-speaking countries, he influenced literature in particular because of his socially critical issues and the invention of the station drama.

While Strindberg's early work can be assigned to naturalism , his later works belong to expressionism . In secondary literature, his literary work is divided into a naturalistic and an expressionistic phase.

Naturalistic phase

In early works Strindberg combined socialism and realism: Accurate and often anachronistic descriptions support the relentless criticism of the state, church, school, press, economy and other social institutions. The perspective is often that of the worker or the “unspoiled” boy. In the poem Esplanadsystemet , he celebrated the relentless confrontation of the new era with the following ideal: "This is where things are torn to get air and light".

With the satirical moral novel The Red Room Strindberg succeeded for the first time to attract the attention of a wide public. With "grim, illusion-free sarcasm" he criticized the social conditions of his time, in which "the greatest discovery of the century had been made, namely that it is cheaper and more pleasant to live on other people's money than on one's own work". Though Strindberg's critics were divided, 7,500 copies of the novel were sold within 6 months. The author advanced to become the spokesman for radical young writers and was celebrated as a pioneer of Zola naturalism in Sweden. Strindberg, who had never read Émile Zola until then, only became aware of the work of the founder of naturalism through this.

Strindberg also received heavy criticism with his subsequent works, in particular with Das Schwedische Volk , a kind of popular scientific non-fiction book, and the satirical book Das neue Reich , with which he openly attacked the conservatives.

Inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Jacques Rousseau , Strindberg illustrated naturalistic and evolutionary ideas, e.g. B. in the novella Odlad frukt ( fertilized fruit ) and in the novel Hemsöborna (1887, Die Menschen auf Hemsö ): Heritage and environment drive the characters to their "natural" fate through the plot.

The most important dramas of the naturalistic phase are undoubtedly The Father and the one-act Miss Julie .

Strindberg also wrote some autobiographical novels during this time, with which he tried to emancipate literature from art. In particular, Tjänstekvinnans son is here . En själs utvecklingshistoria ( The son of a maid. Development of a soul , 4 vols. 1886–1909).

Expressionist phase

Even more than naturalism, Strindberg influenced Expressionism through his later works. After the psychological crises in the 1890s (cf. Inferno Crisis), Strindberg changed feet: With religious ideas inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg and Sören Kierkegaard , Strindberg dissolved earlier realism in order to make way for more expressionistic ideas . He developed "from naturalist to mystic, from doubter to believer, and at the turn of the century he declared himself a student of Maurice Maeterlinck , the symbolist".

His first work after Inferno is the Confession Trilogy After Damascus , which contains the inner struggle over guilt, suffering and reconciliation that he has waged over the past few years.

Strindberg resumed his earlier role as a social critic in the years after 1900 with novels such as Black Flag and The Gothic Rooms . Opponents as well as colleagues and friends were exposed to a relentless satire.


For a few months at the end of 1888, Strindberg exchanged letters with Friedrich Nietzsche, who was then relatively unknown . They had a number of points of contact in their conception of life and philosophy, and Strindberg dreamed of building a new literary school with Nietzsche at his side.

Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy, which Strindberg got to know through reading the groundbreaking works Also sprach Zarathustra , Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols , exerted a significant influence on his worldview and values. Nietzsche's aristocratic approach that overcoming decadence - as a nihilistic paradigm - requires a new elite, pointedly hit Strindberg's self-image.

When he received a strange and aggressive letter from Nietzsche, which was signed "Nietzsche Caesar" (Strindberg signed all his letters back with Deus, optimus maximus , i.e. God, best and highest ), he wrote to Georg Brandes , who also wrote this philosophical circle of letters belonged that Nietzsche might compromise them in front of the literary audience. Shortly afterwards Nietzsche's mental breakdown occurred in Turin.

Strindberg drew further influences from Emanuel Swedenborg , Sören Kierkegaard , Arthur Schopenhauer and Honoré de Balzac .


Jan Myrdal in particular can be cited as writers who were deeply impressed by Strindberg . Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman also says he was inspired by Strindberg, not least in his earlier plays, including Franz Kafka . From abroad you can also name Eugene O'Neill and Lars von Trier , together with Heiner Müller . Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote the drama Play Strindberg as a adaptation of Strindberg's Der Totentanz . In Germany, Strindberg was one of the most played dramatists between 1912 and 1925.

The Swedish symphonist Ture Rangström dedicated his first symphony , composed in 1914, to August Strindberg in memoriam .

Voices about the author

“Better condition because I read Strindberg (“ Entzweit ”). I don't read it to read, but to lie against his chest. He's holding me on his left arm like a child. I'm sitting there like a person on a statue. Ten times I am in danger of slipping, but on the eleventh attempt I am stuck, have security and a good overview. [...] The immense Strindberg. This anger, these sides acquired in a fist fight. "

- Franz Kafka : Diaries, 1910–1923

"My predecessor Otto Brahm made it his life's work to bring Henrik Ibsen closer to the German people [...] Another Scandinavian poet, a genuinely Faustian, kindred, August Strindberg, who, as if from an evil spirit, went through all heights and He was dragged to the depths of life until he was redeemed, and his terrible spiritual struggle left lasting documents on the German theater. Today the stages of Berlin vie to present his works. "

- Max Reinhardt : On modern acting and the work of the director with the actor , 1915

Strindberg as a painter and photographer

August Strindberg: Inferno , painting, 1901

As an artist, Strindberg encountered tenacious incomprehension in his day, not even his artist friends saw his paintings as interesting. Nevertheless, Strindberg painted and photographed during several phases of life with artistic ambitions. In one essay, he claimed that painting was just a hobby for him. However, his artistic work reveals that he tried to process essential thoughts and experiences in his pictures, especially when he suffered from writer's block. In this respect, Strindberg's painting - similar to Friedrich Dürrenmatt's - is closely linked to his literary work and reflects his unsteady, controversial personality in equal measure. Above all, Strindberg uses painting as a “means of dealing with the 'condition humaine'”. Strindberg's intense, sometimes psychotic experiences were transferred directly to the canvas.

His earlier paintings show dramatic, scenic motifs. Rocks and water play an important role. The figurative usually dissolves in the mass of paint. Strindberg often used a spatula for this and first mixed the colors on the canvas, so that the pictures sometimes appear shapeless or unfinished, for example seascape with rocks and Golgotha, Dornach (both 1894).

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote about Strindberg's technique on the occasion of a Strindberg exhibition in the Tate Gallery of Modern Art :

“It shows at every turn how he infallibly knew how to find a painterly metaphor for his state of mind. In contrast to Caspar David Friedrich, Strindberg is not able to conjure up an almost holy fear of the vastness of the world when sea and land meet with him. But little people are missing in his pictures - his world is subject to the elemental forces, in works like the ones mentioned it is a gloomy cosmic mess. "

Strindberg told Paul Gauguin that his pictures were "too sunny" for him. And so Strindberg's photograms from 1894 are also gloomy images of the night sky. Strindberg's autobiographical photographs of his stay in Switzerland in 1886 followed the realistic style as his texts from the same phase.

After the turn of the century, Strindberg increasingly painted pictures reminiscent of dream worlds that left the gloomy motifs of the “Inferno Crisis” behind. Sea, sky and water were still his main themes, but now in a more hopeful, even serene depiction (e.g. The Child's First Cradle ), which reflects the state of mind of the aging Strindberg.

As a writer, Strindberg did not miss the chance to hand out sarcasms against the art establishment. In 1877 he wrote an instruction to become an art connoisseur in 60 minutes :

“Ingenious, grandiose, gigantic, grotesque. The first word works well, especially when the painter is standing nearby so he can hear it. The other names are suitable for depictions of storms, gloomy alpine scenes, mountain gorges, and in general for all formats that are ten feet wide and six feet high. "

Strindberg's symbolic, expressionist works were much more valued during the second half of the 20th century than they were during his lifetime. Today Strindberg is represented in the permanent collections of the Swedish National Museum . The London auction house Christie's auctioned his painting Inferno (1901) in the early 1990s for £ 1.2 million and called him “one of the most important painters of his time”. In 2005, the Tate Modern honored the artist with a large exhibition. Georges Waser judges: "Like the drawing and painting attempts by Victor Hugo , another giant of literature, Strindberg's pictures are more than just a footnote to the man's literary work."


Psychotic disposition

Strindberg's personality showed clear traits of paranoid schizophrenia - again and again he was haunted by delusions, a loss of reality and depression. He also threatened to commit suicide countless times in letters, but there is no evidence of a serious attempt at suicide. His psychological instability reached its climax between 1895 and 1897, at the age of almost 50, with the so-called "Inferno Crisis". Strindberg's literary and artistic work is deeply shaped by his psychotic disposition and failed marriages. Literature and painting served him as a means to “face the onslaught of reality and obtain a quasi-medical treatment”. Many of his works contain - partly distorted - autobiographical features.

Social criticism and relationship to religion

Strindberg was a “seeker” - his life was unsteady, full of curiosity, revolt, crises and twists and turns. Of particular importance is his relationship to religion, which changed several times in the course of his life and is reflected accordingly in his works. As a young man he first turned to pietistic teaching . He later criticized, among other things, the "habitual Christianity" of his time and the institution of the church in satirical writings. In 1884 he even had to answer in court for the publication of marriages on charges of blasphemy. After all, it is his ruthless social criticism that made Strindberg known beyond Sweden.

In his breakthrough The Red Room in 1879 he criticized and caricatured the established institutions of society, with utopians i verkligheten (1884–85, utopia and reality ) he spoke to anarchism that neither socialists nor conservatives liked. In 1910, with the essay Pharaonic Cult in the newly founded “Afton-Tidningen” , he triggered the so-called “Strindberg feud” ( Strindbergfejden ) - a heated cultural debate that lasted a few years in the shadow of the dissolution of the union, a major strike and the emergence of social democracy. His criticism was initially directed against the glorification of Charles XII. , then especially against Verner von Heidenstam , Oscar Levertin and Ellen Key . But the Swedish military, the monarchy, the Asian researcher Sven Hedin and the Swedish Academy were also attacked in articles. In part, the mutual accusations were unfounded and hateful. Strindberg debated in part with dubious, religiously permeated arguments. His criticism was also influenced not least by the constant search for recognition and the urge for self-presentation, which were often bitterly disappointed. He often saw himself ignored and devalued. He was particularly offended by the fact that he was not awarded the Nobel Prize.

Nevertheless, Strindberg found numerous supporters and supporters, especially in the labor movement and among the young Social Democrats, because the literary debate of the 80s and 90s gradually expanded as a large number of critics, writers and members of the Reichstag took part in it the debate on the right to vote, national defense and democracy and was thus part of the prelude to the peasant procession in 1914. The essays from this period were published in several anthologies:

  • Tal till svenska nationen (1910, speeches to the Swedish nation )
  • Folk Acts (1910, The People's State )
  • Religious renässans (1910, Religious Renaissance )
  • Czarens kurir (1912, The Tsar's Courier )

The dispute can also be read in Harry Järv's compilation Strindbergsfejden and in Björn Meidals Från profet till folktribun .

Scientific studies

In the 1880s and 1890s, Strindberg devoted himself more to the sciences, especially the theory of evolution, sociology, psychiatry and chemistry. He viewed the modern natural sciences of his time extremely critically and rejected their achievements, as emerged from his work Sylva Sylvarum (1895). His thoughts were strongly influenced by monism and alchemy . For him, hydrogen was the primary element from which all other elements should emerge. He transferred the evolutionary theory from biology to chemistry and ascribed a development capacity to chemical substances, which was also of central importance in alchemy. For him, sulfur was not an element, but a resin, as he concluded from his own experiments, which should consist of carbon , hydrogen and oxygen . Indigo should be a plant metal with strong relationships to Berlin blue , potassium permanganate and iodine . He also rejected the newly discovered periodic table and the idea of ​​the elements and tried to prove that the various elements could be "transmuted" into one another. He carried out his experiments in his own apartment or in hotel rooms without protective clothing and tried, among other things, to produce gold. By chance he succeeded in producing fool's gold from iron and sulfur, whereupon he thought he had real gold in front of him. Strindberg exposed himself to various chemicals, leading to a skin disease in 1895 that required hospital treatment. His speculations were unanimously rejected by the Association of Chemists, u. a. The Svedberg : "What is right of it is not new, and what is new is not right".

Mysticism and occultism

A new turning point occurs with the experiences of the “inferno crisis”. Strindberg understands his existence as the path of a wandering person, as he describes it in To Damascus . The aging Strindberg turns more and more to religion. As a follower of symbolism, he searches for possible interpretations for things and sometimes finds them in mystical explanations of the world. He deals with occultism and monism . The texts of Emanuel Swedenborg influence him as well as the theosophy of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky . At the end of his life he was a syncretist and identified with a kind of world soul, with which he believed he was connected through the subconscious. These existential speculations are noticeable in his later production (e.g. in the dream game ). At his death in 1912, Strindberg had a large amount of theosophical literature in his library, including by Annie Besant and Alfred Percy Sinnett , along with books on mythology and the history of religion. Strindberg's interest in alchemy and the occult was by no means uncommon in his day. On the contrary - there was a flourishing movement in Paris in particular , numerous writings were published. a. in the journal L'Initiation , for which Strindberg also wrote several articles.

Representative of his time

Strindberg was called a “radical reactionary”. Throughout his life he retained his popular and socially critical point of view. The numerous changes that characterize Strindberg's thinking and work must of course be seen against the background of his eccentric character and his pathological personality traits. Nevertheless, they are above all an expression of his age, which he faced with a spirit of contradiction and a sensitive gift for observation. Peter Schütze in this context:

“August Strindberg was an insatiable exploiter of impressions, artistic, political and ideological tendencies. [...] Nevertheless, he was not a chameleon of the zeitgeist; his erratic, contradicting metamorphoses do not undermine the extraordinary strength and uniqueness [...] His handling of the teachings and fashions of his age was extremely stubborn and dictatorial; he himself was therefore able to become a time-determining figure, despite all mental fluctuations. His psychological defects are not only individual sufferings, in them the character of time becomes transparent [...] [They] also make Strindberg a typical representative of his epoch, the 'personified sum of all time phenomena', as Ludwig Marcuse once called him . "

Strindberg's relationship with women

By Carl Eldh originating Statue August Strindberg in Stockholm

The feminism of the time runs through Strindberg's texts. He polemicized against ideas of equality that seemed too radical to him, for example he was very critical of Ibsen's Et dukkehjem ( Nora or a doll's house ). On another occasion he wrote in relation to the Russian mathematician Sofja Kowalewskaja , who had received a private lectureship at Stockholm University through the mediation of the Swedish mathematician Gösta Mittag-Leffler :

“A female math professor is a dangerous and unpleasant figure, one can safely say an outrage. Her invitation to a country in which there are so many male mathematicians who are far superior to her can only be explained with the gallantry of Swedes towards women. "

Strindberg's relationship with women is generally considered to be complicated, as evidenced by his three failed marriages. He was often portrayed as a misogynist. He gave reason for this, among other things, in marriages , in which the criticism of the family as a social institution turns into outspoken contempt for women. In recent years this picture of Strindberg has been revised and corrected more and more. Eivor Martinus, for example, deals in her book Strindberg and Love (2001) with a myriad of letters between Strindberg and the women of his life. In the end, Martinus writes that Strindberg could not possibly have hated women, even if he was often in conflict with them.

Strindberg's relationship to women can primarily be described as ambivalent, not absolutely negative, and is to be understood in terms of his fundamental analysis of the relationship between the two sexes. Thomas Mann commented on this as follows ( August Strindberg , 1948):

“The strongest example of this is his relationship to women, in which the polemics against modern ideas of emancipation are the least of what is mixed up in his desperate struggle against this [bourgeois society], in which he always strives for 'success' The role is played, and all the greater is the eternal mythical death-hatred of the sexes. In no literature there is a more diabolical comedy than his marriage experiences than his addiction to women and his horror before him, his sacred monogamous worship and glorification of marriage and his complete inability to endure it. "

In the same vein, Verner Arpe writes: "He saw Satan and God in women - and what he allowed to happen around these poles always pointed back to his skeptical attitude and his longing for perfection."

Works (selection)

The year numbers refer to the year the manuscript was completed.

  • 1879: The red room
  • 1887: The people on Hemsö (alternatively: the island farmers)
  • 1890: At the open sea
  • 1904: The Gothic rooms
  • 1904: Black flags
Biographical works
  • 1886: the son of a maid
  • 1888: Plea of ​​a madman (alternatively: the confession of a fool )
  • 1897: Inferno
  • 1898: monastery
  • 1903: lonely
  • 1907: A blue book
  • 1908: Occult Diary


Total expenditure

Strindberg's works. Organized by the poet himself with the assistance of Emil Schering as translator. About 50 vols. Leipzig and Munich, Georg Müller 1902–1930

  • description

Emil Schering published the most extensive edition of Strindberg's works to date by Georg Müller-Verlag. In accordance with its Swedish model, it was composed of 55 volumes and appeared over a period of about 30 years. The edition known in the antiquarian book trade as the "yellow August" (because of the typical yellow canvas covers in which all volumes have been published uniformly; there are also the cover variants paperback, cardboard, half leather and leather for parts of the edition) has a number of volumes that cannot be precisely determined because some works were published under different titles (for example: "Fairy Tales", "Modern Fables" and "Fairy Tales and Fables"), individual works were taken over as rough sheets from the Seemann-Verlag and, while preserving the title page, with the cover of the Georg Müller Complete edition (“Fairy Tales”, “Flower Paintings and Animal Pieces”, “Swedish Nature”, “Sylva Sylvarum”), partial works from more extensive contexts also appeared in individual volumes with a cover and title of the complete edition (e.g. “Luther. The nightingale von Wittenberg "from" Deutsche Historien "), partial works from only announced and not published volumes of the complete edition as individual volumes in the cover of Ge complete edition are available (e.g. B. “The conscious will in world history”, with three other titles, “A Free Norway”, “Religious Renaissance” and “The People's State” planned and announced for another volume in the “Science” section), and in the publisher's directories “ 25 Jahre-Georg-Müller-Verlag ”and“ Ausritt 1931 ”volumes are indicated as already published, which were only planned and were no longer printed. If all the different Strindberg editions, which are uniformly bound in yellow canvas, are added together with the series title of the work edition, the edition has significantly more than 50 volumes. The “Regentendramen”, which only appeared in 1928, are among the rarest and most sought-after publications by Georg Müller Verlag because of their very low binding rate. The volume “Antibarbarus”, which is shown again and again, cannot be found in any library and was only published in German in 1894 by the publishing house of the Bibliographisches Bureau, but never as part of the complete edition. Emil Schering was not without controversy as a Strindberg translator, since he repeatedly intervened arbitrarily and censoring in excessively revealing descriptions of Strindberg (e.g. in "Die Inselbauern"), which brought him the accusation from Christian Morgenstern that he was a "land plague" . The Strindberg Edition, started by Hyperion Verlag after the end of the World War, was therefore expressly seen as competition to the Schering Complete Edition by Georg Müller. On the other hand, how much Schering rendered himself to Strindberg's work (by serving rampant requests for money and books as well as handling messenger services for the poet) is documented in the volume “Briefe an Emil Schering” published in the complete edition.

  • Band division
  • I. Dept. Dramas
    • Vol. 1 youth dramas. 1923
    • Vol. 2 Romantic Dramas. 1918
    • Vol. 3 Naturalistic Dramas. 1916
    • Vol. 4 Eleven one-act plays. 1917
    • Vol. 5 To Damascus. First, second, third part. 1912
    • Vol. 6 intoxication. Dance of Death Part 1 and 2. 1912
    • Vol. 7 annual festival. 1912
    • Vol. 8 fairy tale games. A dream game. 1919
    • Vol. 9 Chamber plays. 1908
    • Vol. 10 Games in Verse. 1912
    • Vol. 11 Master Olof. Edition in prose and verse. 1917
    • Vol. 12 Royal Dramas. 1914
    • Vol. 13 German Histories. Gustav Adolf. The nightingale of Wittenberg. 1915
    • Vol. 14 Dramatic Characteristics. 1914
    • Vol. 15 Rain Dramas. 1928
    • Numerous pieces as single volumes with the series title "August Strindbergs Werke", z. Partly also in the typical yellow canvas decoration of the uniform appearance of the complete edition.
  • II. Dept. Novels
    • Vol. 1 The Red Room. 1908
    • Vol. 2 The island farmers. 1908
    • Vol. 3 By the open sea. 1908
    • Vol. 4 The Gothic Rooms. 1908
    • Vol. 5 Black flags. 1913
  • III. Dept. of novellas
    • Vol. 1 getting married. Twenty marriage stories. 1910
    • Vol. 2 Swiss novellas. 1912.
    • Vol. 3 The Archipelago. Three circles of short stories. 1921
    • Vol. 4 fairy tales and fables. 1918
    • Vol. 5 Three modern stories. 1911
    • Vol. 6 Swedish Fates and Adventures. 1911
    • Vol. 7 Short historical novels. 1913
    • Vol. 8 Historical Miniatures. 1912
    • Vol. 9 Swedish Miniatures. 1909
  • IV. Dept. of life history
    • Vol. 1 The son of a maid. 1912
    • Vol. 2 The development of a soul. 1910
    • Vol. 3 The confession of a fool. 1912
    • Vol. 4 Inferno. Legends. 1910
    • Vol. 5 Divided. Lonely. 1909
  • V. Dept. Poems
    • Vol. 1 Seven Cycles of Poems. 1923
  • (original V. Dept. of Science)
    • Vol. 2 Swedish nature
    • Vol. 3 flower paintings and animal pieces
  • VI. Dept. of Science
    • Vol. 1 Among French farmers. 1912
    • Vol. 2 Nature Trilogy. 1921
    • Vol. 3 Antibarbarus. (Only announced, not published in the complete edition)
    • Vol. 4 Dramaturgy. 1911
    • Vol. 5 A blue book. The synthesis of my life. First volume. 1908
    • Vol. 6 A blue book. The synthesis of my life. Second volume. 1908
    • Vol. 7 A third blue book. Along with the abandoned blue book. 1921
    • Vol. 8 The Book of Love. Unprinted and printed matter from the blue book. 1912
  • (original VI. Department of Philosophy)
    • Vol. 2 Sylva Sylvarum 1904
    • Vol. 3 The Conscious Will in World History. 1916
  • VII. Dept. Estate
    • Vol. 1 Moses; Socrates; Christ. A world historical trilogy. With the introduction: The conscious will in world history. 1922
  • VIII. Dept. Letters
    • Vol. 1 He and you. 1930
    • Vol. 2 letters to the intimate theater. 1921
    • Vol. 3 letters to Emil Schering. 1924
  • Supplementary volume: Hermann Esswein - Strindberg in the light of his life and work. 1919 (in the cover of the complete edition)

Further total expenditure:

  • Works. 9 volumes. Translations by Willi Reich , Tabitha von Bonin, Else von Hollander-Lassow. Munich 1955–1959
  • August Strindberg: works in chronological order , ed. by Angelika Gundlach . Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1984 ff. (Published after 4 in 5 volumes)

Single issues

  • August Strindberg's stage work in a new translation by Heinrich Goebel. 12 volumes in 2 rows. Berlin 1919
  • Dramas. Translated by Willi Reich. Essay by Hans Schwarz. Reinbek 1960
  • Dramas. Translated by Willi Reich. 3 volumes. Munich-Vienna 1964/65
  • Selected dramas in three volumes. Translated by Artur Bethke and Anne Storm. Hg. And come. by Artur Bethke. Rostock 1983
  • Dramas in 3 volumes. (Licensed edition of the Rostock edition, with afterword by Ernst Wendt) Munich 1984
  • Dutchman. Translated from the estate. by E. Schering. Heidelberg 1949
  • A dream game. German by Peter Weiss. Frankfurt a. M. 1963
  • Miss Julie. German by Peter Weiss. In: Spectaculum X. Frankfurt a. M. 1967
  • Dance of death . 2nd edition Seemann, Berlin 1904 ( digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf )
  • At the open sea. Leipzig: Reclam, 1984
  • Black flags. Morals from the turn of the century. Translated by Else von Hollander-Lossow. Berlin: Hyperion-Verlag, 1919
  • The red room. Descriptions from the life of artists and writers. Translated by Hilde Rubinstein. Berlin: Rütten & Loening, 1986
  • The island farmers. Translated by Emil Schering. Munich: G. Müller, 1922
  • The Gothic room. Translated by Else von Hollander-Lossow. Berlin: Hyperion-Verlag, 1910
  • Farewell to illusions. Selected stories. Zurich 1991
  • The people on Hemsö. Translated by Hans-Jürgen Hube, Rostock: Hinstorff Verlag, 1983
  • Days of illusions. Selected stories. Translated by Hans-Jürgen Hube, Rostock: VEB Hinstorff Verlag, 1971
  • Selected short stories in three volumes. Published by Klaus Möllmann, Rostock: VEB Hinstorff Verlag, 1988
  • Poems: first selection. Transferred from Emil Schering. Only authoritative by the poet and his heirs. German edition Munich: Müller, Rudolstadt: Mänicke and Jahn [Drucker], 1921
  • Poems in verse and prose. Translated by Otto Hauser, Weimar: Duncker, 1917
  • The city trip and other poems. Selected and over. by Walter A. Berendsohn. Hamburg-Düsseldorf 1970
  • August Strindberg, letters. Edited by Torsten Eklund. Translated by Tabitha von Bonin. Hamburg-Berlin 1956
  • August Strindberg, letters to his daughter Kerstin. Edited by Torsten Eklund. Hamburg 1963 - Düsseldorf 1986
  • Memories and letters. Bialogard / PL 1997
  • Letters to Strindberg. Edited by Walter A. Berendsohn. Mainz 1967
  • Audio book: The abyss that devoured us: Excerpts from an exchange of letters between August Strindberg and Frida Uhl , Kolophonium Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-9810808-7-2 .
  • August Strindberg: Among French farmers: a report , with an essay by Thomas Steinfeld , Frankfurt, M.: Eichborn 2009, series Die Other Bibliothek , ISBN 978-3-8218-6214-9 .
  • August Strindberg: Notes from a Doubter. Writings from the estate . Edited and translated by Renate Bleibtreu. Berlin 2011

Secondary literature

  • Herlinde Nitsch Ayers: Self-realization - self-negation. Conflicts of roles in the Hebbel, Ibsen and Strindberg plant. New York et al. a .: Lang 1995, ISBN 0-8204-2668-7 (= Studies on themes and motifs in literature; 15)
  • Oskar Bandle (ed.): Strindberg's dramas in the light of recent methodological discussions. Contributions to the IV. International Strindberg Symposium in Zurich 1979. Basel a. a .: Helbing and Lichtenhahn 1981, ISBN 3-7190-0802-9 (= contributions to Nordic philology; 11)
  • Hans-Peter Bayerdörfer, Hans Otto Horch u. Georg-Michael Schulz: Strindberg on the German stage. An exemplary history of the reception of modernity in documents (1890 to 1925). Neumünster: Wachholtz 1983, ISBN 3-529-03317-0 (= Scandinavian studies; 17)
  • Wolfgang Behschnitt: The author figure. Autobiographical aspect and construction of the author in the work of August Strindberg. Basel: Schwabe 1999, ISBN 3-7965-1141-4 (= contributions to Nordic philology; 27)
  • Rüdiger Bernhardt: August Strindberg. Munich: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verlag 1999, ISBN 3-423-31013-8 (= dtv; 31013; dtv portrait)
  • Anni Carlsson : Ibsen, Strindberg, Hamsun. Essays on Scandinavian literature. Kronberg / Taunus: Athenäum-Verlag 1978, ISBN 3-7610-8021-2
  • Per Olov Enquist : Strindberg. A life , translated from Swedish by Verena Reichel, updated new edition, btb Verlag / Random House, Munich 2012, 283 pp.
  • Hermann Esswein: August Strindberg in the light of his life and works , Georg Müller Verlag Munich, 1919
  • Johannes F. Evelein: August Strindberg and the expressionist station drama . A shape study. New York et al. a .: Lang 1996, ISBN 0-8204-2612-1 (= Studies on themes and motifs in literature; 13)
  • Wilhelm Friese (Ed.): Strindberg and the German-speaking countries. International contributions to the Tübingen Strindberg Symposium 1977. Basel u. a .: Helbing & Lichtenhahn 1979, ISBN 3-7190-0724-3 (= contributions to Nordic philology; 8)
  • Heinz Gerstinger: Austria, lovely fairy tale and bad dream. Strindberg's marriage to Frida Uhl. Vienna: Herold 1987, ISBN 3-7008-0296-X
  • Wilfried Hammacher: Reborn. Life paths of August Strindberg and Carl Ludwig Schleich. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum 1994, ISBN 3-7235-0734-4
  • Gerda Hennig: Dream worlds in the mirror of poetry. Jean Paul, Dostoevsky, Nerval, Strindberg. Frankfurt am Main: RG Fischer 1995, ISBN 3-89501-276-9 .
  • Jenny C. Hortenbach: Striving for freedom and destructiveness: women in the dramas of August Strindberg and Gerhart Hauptmann (= Germanic series of Norwegian universities and colleges , No. 2: Scandinavian University Books ), Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1965, DNB 363864148 (revised dissertation).
  • Karl Jaspers: Strindberg and van Gogh. Attempt a comparative pathographic analysis. Merve-Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-88396-142-6 (= International Merve Discourse; 210)
  • Manfred Karnick: role play and world theater. Investigations on dramas by Calderón, Schiller, Strindberg, Becketts and Brechts. Munich: Fink 1980, ISBN 3-7705-1850-0
  • Wolfdietrich von KloedenStrindberg, Johann August. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 11, Bautz, Herzberg 1996, ISBN 3-88309-064-6 , Sp. 57-83.
  • Ewald Koepke: August Strindberg. Through the abyss to individuation. Hamburg: Hamburger Kulturverlag 1983, ISBN 3-922684-43-2
  • Olof Lagercrantz: Strindberg. Frankfurt am Main: Insel-Verlag 1980, ISBN 3-458-04923-1
  • Anatoly Livry: August Strindberg: de Rhadamanthe à Busiris et l'Etna de Zarathoustra. Nietzsche research, Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2011, pp. 123–135
  • Hanno Lunin : Strindberg's Dramas. Emsdetten 1962.
  • Ludwig Marcuse: Strindberg. The life of a tragic soul. Zurich: Diogenes 1989, ISBN 3-257-21780-3 (= Diogenes paperback; 21780)
  • Eivor Martinus: Strindberg and Love . Amber Lane Press, 2001, ISBN 1-872868-33-9
  • Anton Neumayr: Poets and their sufferings. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Schiller, August Strindberg, Georg Trakl. Vienna u. a .: Deuticke 2000, ISBN 3-216-30551-1
  • Wolfgang Pasche: Scandinavian Drama in Germany. Björnstjerne Björnson, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg on the German stage 1867–1932. Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel 1979, ISBN 3-7190-0750-2 (= contributions to Nordic philology; 9)
  • Fritz Paul: August Strindberg. Stuttgart: Metzler 1979, ISBN 3-476-10178-9 (= Metzler Collection; 178)
  • Eckhart Pilick: Strindberg's Kammerspiele. Cologne 1969
  • Sue Prideaux: Strindberg: a life . Yale University Press , New Haven 2012 ISBN 978-0-300-13693-7
  • Sigismund Rahmer : August Strindberg - a pathological study . Reinhardt, 1907
  • Michael Robinson (Red.): An International Annotated Bibliography of Strindberg Studies 1870–2005 Vol. 1: General Studies, Series: Modern Humanities Research Association MHRA Bibliographies. Victoria (Australia) 2008 (annotated, in particular note on the mostly inadequate German translations of his works)
  • Stefanie von Schnurbein: Crises of masculinity. Writing and gender discourse in Scandinavian novels since 1890. Wallstein, Göttingen 2001 ISBN 3-89244-441-2 (= publication from the Göttingen Collaborative Research Center 529 “Internationality of National Literature”; Series B, European literatures and international processes, 4)
  • Erich Schönebeck: Strindberg as an educator . (= Decided School Reform Volume 3), Ernst Oldenburg, Berlin 1922
  • Peter Schütze: August Strindberg. With testimonials and photo documents. 3rd edition Rowohlt, Reinbek 2002 ISBN 3-499-50383-2 (= rororo 50383; Rowohlt's monographs )
  • Klaus von See (ed.): The Strindberg feud. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1987 ISBN 3-518-38508-9 (= Suhrkamp paperback; materials)
  • Karl Strecker: Nietzsche and Strindberg. Georg Müller, Munich 1921
  • Sebastian Stricker: Those who don't fight back will end up at the stove. The figure of "Kristin" in August Strindberg's Fröken Julie. Meysenburg, Essen 2001, ISBN 3-930508-10-9
  • Elisabeth Vaupel : August Strindberg as a "natural scientist" . Chemistry in our time, 18th year 1984, 5 ISSN  0009-2851 pp 156-167
  • Kirsten Wechsel (Ed.): Strindberg and His Media. Proceedings of the 15th International Strindberg Conference. Kirchhof & Franke, Leipzig 2003 ISBN 3-933816-21-1

Adaptations of Strindberg's works




Web links

Commons : August Strindberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: August Strindberg  - Sources and full texts (Swedish)


  1. Getting married. Schering III, 2, p. 29
  2. ^ Heinz Gerstinger: Austria - Holdes fairy tale and bad dream. August Strindberg's marriage to Frida Uhl . Herold, Vienna 1987, ISBN 3-7008-0296-X
  3. Kulturwanderweg Strindbergweg-Klamschlucht, with a link to a PDF (20 pages).
  4. ^ Peter Schütze: August Strindberg , Rowohlt Monographs, p. 129
  5. ^ Occult diary. The marriage to Harriet Bosse. Hamburg 1964, p. 15
  6. ^ Peter Schütze: August Strindberg , Rowohlt Monographs, p. 45
  7. ^ The red room (Schering), Munich 1919, p. 175
  8. Verner Arpe: Knaurs actor leader. Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, Munich / Zurich 1957, p. 272
  9. a b c Georges Waser: From Inferno to Dream World. Strindberg's painterly work in the Tate Modern. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . Zurich April 29, 2005 ( online [accessed April 30, 2019]).
  10. ^ Peter Schütze: August Strindberg , Rowohlt Monographs, p. 105
  11. ^ Peter Schütze: August Strindberg , Rowohlt Monographs, p. 136 f.
  12. Quoted in: Ingrid screw: Between salon and girl's room. Kabel, Hamburg 1992, p. 70
  13. Verner Arpe: Knaurs actor leader . Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, Munich / Zurich 1957, p. 272
  14. Evidence for a restless existence Review of the biography of Per Olov Enquist on