Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. He began writing plays while a student at Uppsala University. His first full play, Master Olof (1872), was written when he was 23 years old and is now considered Sweden's first great drama. However it was rejected by the Royal Dramatic Theater because of its "irreverent" treatment of Swedish national heroes. It was also written in prose, which was unusual for tragedy at the time.
Strindberg combined psychology and Naturalism in a new kind of European drama that evolved into Expressionist drama. He was a prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience. His career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics. His chief works include The Father (1887), Miss Julie (1888), Creditors (1888), A Dream Play (1902), and The Ghost Sonata (1907). Strindberg is considered the "father" of modern Swedish literature and The Red Room (1879) has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel. However, it stirred up controversy with its radical depiction of Swedish history and he was forced to flee Sweden with his family in 1883.
Strindberg married three times but his outbursts against the feminist movement and emancipation scandalized society and lost him the support of his liberal friends. He was summoned back to Sweden on a charge of blasphemy brought against him by his growing number of enemies. Although Strindberg was acquitted, the trial marked the beginning of his descent into insanity, which would reach its peak a decade later. After studying mysticism, Strindberg recovered and went on to write about his experience of near madness. He died alone in Stockholm in 1912.
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