“The unhappiest moment of his life was the hour of his birth.” So reads the first sentence of a biography of August Strindberg published in the Forties, with its then familiar inference that Strindberg’s existence had begun in deprivation and was resumed under lifelong persecution. In recent years, however, an increasingly revised opinion has refuted any conclusion arrived at by accepting Strindberg at his own estimate. Olof Lagercrantz’s biography1 of the man (it is not primarily a critique of the work) is the most enlightening which has appeared; to begin with, the author acknowledges that “any biographer of Strindberg must in a sense protect himself from his subject: for every phase of his life, Strindberg decided how he wanted to be understood and deliberately created a persona for...


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