So many of us can cite the beginning of August Strindberg’s “Hemsöborna": "Han kom som ett yrväder en aprilafton och hade ett höganäskrus i en svångrem om halsen.” Even if we are unsure of just what a höganäskrus really looks like. Nordstjernan takes a look at one of our most famous and beloved Swedish authors.
Without a doubt Sweden’s greatest author ever, August Strindberg, is also one of the most influential and important of all European authors of that period. He is known as one of the fathers of modern theater and helped usher in expressionism. Strindberg studied at Uppsala, and later worked as a schoolteacher; he also tried his hand at medical studies and hoped to become an actor. For a while he was a journalist. But it was his novel “The Red Room” (1879) that brought him fame.
Strindberg spent a great deal of time living abroad with his first wife Siri von Essen. While in France and Switzerland he wrote “Giftas”, “Tjänstekvinnans son”, “En dåres försvarstal”, “Fadren” och “Fröken Julie”. While abroad he also wrote “Hemsöborna” colored by his homesickness for Sweden and Stockholms skärgård.
Strindberg was married three times and his relationships with women were notoriously bad. After divorcing Siri in 1891, Strindberg wrote “Inferno” and went through a deep emotional crisis. He was by then a famous author and his work had gone from naturalism to expressionism. By 1901 he had married and divorced a second wife (Austrian journalist Frida Uhl), and married again, his third wife actress Harriet Bosse. He had five children altogether.
Something of a renaissance man, Strindberg also painted, photographed and was interested in alchemy and natural sciences – he even taught himself to speak and write in Chinese. His favorite composer was Beethoven.
Strindberg’s last years were spent at his home, Blå tornet in central Stockholm, where he lived from 1908-1912, and which today is a museum. Towards the end of his life he returned to Christianity. He took a bad beating from the infamous Strindbergsfejden (which had its origin in Strindberg criticizing King Karl XII and which lasted till his death). All his marriages had failed, and although he knew he had created for himself a permanent place in literature, he had financial troubles and was lonely.
August Strindberg died in May 1912 and is buried at Norra begravningsplatsen. 60,000 people are said to have followed his coffin to the burial. His gravestone is a simple cross which says, “O crux ave spes unica” (Hail to the cross, our only hope).
Strindberg wrote about 60 plays, ten novels, ten collections of short stories, and around 8,000 letters, making him one of Sweden’s most prolific writers.
Där hänger på boklådefönstret en tunnklädd liten bok.
Det är ett urdraget hjärta, som dinglar där på sin krok. Strindberg citat - ett av Sveriges mest kända om böcker och litteratur.