Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Strindberg Reader

August Strindberg is one of those obscure Scandinavian writers who pop up every now and then in erudite witticisms, trivia games, and Dennis Miller monologues. What drew me to him was the online cartoon "Strindberg and Helium," a wonderfully silly pairing of the morose fellow with an insufferably upbeat sidekick.
In any case, this book collects a handful of the guy's short stories, plays and essays. He was a writer of remarkably broad interests. The essays run from musings on Shakespeare and theology to an analysis of Chinese politics. The short stories are in a similar vein as those of Guy de Maupassant: short, with simple plot turns and with a tone that today would be described as impossibly heavy-handed. It's interesting stuff, and the earnest tone is refreshing in today's world of self-consciously hip and heavily marketed prose.


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