– Letter to Rudolf Wall, 29 March 1879
The Red Room (1879), a novel that Strindberg published at the age of 30, marked his definitive breakthrough among both critics and the general reading public. Neither Master Olof, a play, nor his other previous works had attracted much of a following.
The Red Room is generally described as having infused Swedish literature with a new and modern vernacular. And that is hard to deny – more than 130 years later, the book is still an exhilarating reading experience. Although the composition of the novel is imperfect, it is unsurpassed in its treatment of language and its perspicacious social criticism. The journalistic quality of the writing is what most typifies his snapshots and intimate portraits (Stories from the Life of Artists and Authors).
The People of Hemsö, a burlesque account of life in the archipelago, may be Strindberg’s second most popular and beloved book. He was somewhat ambivalent about the novel, which he wrote in Bavaria, and regarded it as essentially a commercial enterprise. Not surprisingly, the inhabitants of Kymmendö whom the author had so freely caricatured were less than enthusiastic about the prospect of his spending another summer among them. Its cheerful tone and scenic descriptions notwithstanding, the book is anything but an idealisation of its protagonists.
The stores in Married I and II and his latter works – The Quarantine Master’s Second Story, The Roofing Feast and The Scapegoat – represent Strindberg’s greatest stylistic triumphs. His mature production features penetrating psychological analyses, not to mention a masterful command of phraseology and diction.
The articles on Strindberg were written by Magnus Halldin. The timeline "Strindberg year by year " was compiled by David Gedin. Texts © 2012 the author and the Swedish Arts Council respectively.