Johan August Strindberg

On this date in 1849, dramatist, novelist and writer Johan August Strindberg, one of nine children, was born in Stockholm, Sweden. His childhood was poor, as demonstrated by the title of his autobiography, The Son of a Servant (1886). He attended Upsala University, and, while working at the Royal Library in Stockholm, wrote a popular novel, Roda rummet (1879), which made him a national celebrity. His religiously satiric story, Det nya riket (1882), created such a ruckus he had to leave the country. When he returned, he became an active leader with the Swedish Rationalists. He corresponded with Nietzsche and was an admirer of Edgar Allan Poe. A passage with an unorthodox description of the Last Supper in his collection of his stories, Giftas (1884), was censored as anti-Christian, and Strindberg was charged with blasphemy. Although in Switzerland at the time, Strindberg returned to Sweden to face charges, and was acquitted. He suffered a mental breakdown, which he and his work never really recovered from, in the late 1890s, although he remained active in theatre. The author of more than 70 plays, he is considered an important influence to modern playwrights. D. 1912.

“Reason, too, was sin; the greatest of all sins, for it questioned God’s very existence, tried to understand what was not meant to be understood. Why it was not meant to be understood was not explained; probably it was because if it had been understood the fraud would have been discovered.”

—Johan August Strindberg, Married (Giftas), 1884.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor and Sabrina Gaylor

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