The Greatest Books: Written by August StrindbergUnfortunately, there often was — sometimes all three. Stefan was one of four brothers raised by a violent father, Boris. Three of them grew up to become bank robbers, members of an outfit known in Sweden as the Military Gang, who were responsible for 10 audacious heists in the early s. Stefan was the exception. While his brothers spent their late teens and early 20s sticking up banks and armoured vans, he was at art school. He really had to take the first punch. I was always observing, always seeing my father try to make his eldest son an expression of himself.
Camilla Läckberg: Father and Son
I ratted out my bank robber brothers
He studied intermittently at the University of Uppsala, preparing in turn for the ministry and a career in medicine but never taking a degree. To earn his living, he worked as a free-lance journalist in Stockholm, as well as at other jobs that he almost invariably lost. For several years he continued revising the play—later recognized as the first modern Swedish drama—thus delaying his development as a dramatist of contemporary problems. In he became a librarian at the Royal Library, and in he met the Finno-Swedish Siri von Essen, then the unhappy wife of an officer of the guards; two years later they married. Their intense but ultimately disastrous relationship ended in divorce in , when Strindberg, to his great grief, lost the custody of their four children. At first, however, marriage stimulated his writing, and in he published his first novel , The Red Room, a satirical account of abuses and frauds in Stockholm society: this was something new in Swedish fiction and made its author nationally famous.
A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over sixty plays and more than thirty works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics. A bold experimenter and iconoclast throughout, he explored a wide range of dramatic methods and purposes, from naturalistic tragedy, monodrama, and history plays, to his anticipations of expressionist and surrealist dramatic techniques. From his earliest work, Strindberg developed innovative forms of dramatic action, language, and visual composition. He is considered the "father" of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel. In Sweden, Strindberg is known as an essayist, painter, poet, and especially as a novelist and playwright, but in other countries he is known mostly as a playwright. In Miss Julie, characterisation replaces plot as the predominant dramatic element in contrast to melodrama and the well-made play and the determining role of heredity and the environment on the "vacillating, disintegrated" characters is emphasized.