Tomorrow they’ll boo

John Simon

  • Strindberg: A Life by Sue Prideaux
    Yale, 371 pp, £25.00, February 2012, ISBN 978 0 300 13693 7

August Strindberg’s complete works in Swedish run to 55 volumes, not counting the ten thousand or so letters. He lived for 63 years, yet wrote sixty-odd plays, equalling Shaw, who lived thirty years longer. And not only plays: novels, memoirs, poetry, essays. He was also a superb painter. He led a complicated life with manifold pursuits to which Sue Prideaux’s Strindberg: A Life does condign justice. She is Anglo-Norwegian, grew up straddling the two countries, and completed her education in art history at Florence, Paris and London. One infers her familiarity with at least five languages, so she is attuned to the polyglot Strindberg, who taught himself German, French, Chinese, Japanese and Hebrew, even writing books in French. Prideaux is also an accomplished novelist, and the prize-winning biographer of Strindberg’s friend Edvard Munch.

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