An Interview with Sue Prideaux on August Strindberg
August Strindberg was not only a novelist, satirist, poet, photographer, painter, alchemist, and hellraiser but also, as Arthur Miller suggested, “the mad inventor of modern theater” who led playwriting out of the polite drawing room into the snakepit of psychological warfare. Best known for his play Miss Julie, Strindberg was a prolific writer amassing sixty plays, three books of poetry, eighteen novels and nine autobiographies.
In her book Strindberg: A Life, which was recently shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, Sue Prideaux describes a man of obsessions; in Paris he was gripped by a burning fascination with alchemy and the occult, believing the hounds of the underworld to be stalking Edvard Munch’s corridors, yet previously he had been a realist and atheist indebted to Zola. Strindberg was also at one time a womaniser and heavy absinthe drinker, yet was still prepared to remain at home with his children to enable his first wife Siri to pursue her acting career.
Prideaux recently spoke to Yale University Press, London about the legacy of Strindberg, the deeply psychological focus of his works, and the appeal of his plays to female actors.
Sue Prideaux is a writer living in Sussex, UK. Her book Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in biography and is available from Yale University Press. More information about her books, lectures and articles can be found on her personal website.