12 April 2012

Sweden’s Most Influential Author Was A Techno Freak

August Strindberg is considered to be the Swedish author who has had the greatest impact on literature both internationally and in his home country. He died hundred years ago, but he was modern for his time and very interested in new technologies. Strindberg also has a rather unknown connection to the island where Sigge and I live and where Business Solutions has its head office.
August Strindberg photo
The Year of Strindberg
In Sweden 2012 is declared The Year of Strindberg, and the memory of the prominent author is honored in various ways. But August Strindberg is not only remembered in Sweden. Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Maxim Gorky, John Osborne and Ingmar Bergman are a few of the many people who have cited Strindberg as an influence. His most famous play is Miss Julie from 1888, and a Google search shows that it is even right now performed in several places around the globe.

Rapid technological development
Strindberg was born in Stockholm 1849, and during his lifetime he experienced a technological revolution that was unparalleled in history. He saw the breakthrough of steamships and railways in Sweden and also the introduction of the telegraph, telephony, photography, art, animated films and electric light. The rapid development of society stimulated Strindberg to a revival of the metaphorical language in his books and plays.

Language innovator and propagator
Right from childhood Strindberg was fascinated by science. He was a rebel and experimenter, who wanted to “to turn everything upside down to see what lies beneath”, as he himself wrote in a letter, and he used terms from physics, chemistry and medicine in his works. Many new expressions from plays and novels by August Strindberg has stayed in the Swedish language, like “tankespår” “track of thought” from the novel that became his breakthrough, The Red Room. Here he takes the image from a railway train.

Revolt against church and monarchy
Strindberg also wanted to turn the society of his time upside down. The Red Room is a satire on hypocrisy and corruption and has frequently been called the first modern Swedish novel. Here his rebellion is still comparatively subdued, but later he published texts that led to strong reactions and even prosecution for blasphemy.

Eventually Strindberg felt it impossible to stay in Sweden, and for many years he lived in exile in France, Germany and Switzerland. During this period he was an eager practicioner of alchemy, but he also wrote his most loved novel, The People of Hemsö, about farmers and fishermen on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. Strindberg eventually returned to Sweden and spent his last years in Stockholm.

Best friend from Öland
August Strindberg photoAnd the connection to From his youth August Strindberg had a very good friend, the painter Per Ekström from Öland, where the head office is situated. This painter was the model for one of the characters in The Red Room, and the friendship lasted through Strindberg’s chaotic life. Ekström was even present when Strindberg died in Stockholm, in May 1912.

If you wish to learn more about August Strindberg, I recommend you to visit the website for The Year of Strindberg, which is available in various languages.

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