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Strindberg: Five Plays Paperback – July 21, 1983


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Strindberg: Five Plays + The Major Plays (Signet Classics) + Ibsen: 4 Major Plays, Vol. 2: Ghosts/An Enemy of the People/The Lady from the Sea/John Gabriel Borkman (Signet Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (July 21, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520046986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520046986
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Swedish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Harry G. Carlson teaches Drama and Theatre at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has written widely on Swedish drama and theatre and has been honored in Sweden for his books, Strindberg and the Poetry of Myth (California, 1982) and Out of Inferno: Strindberg's Reawakening as an Artist (1996), play translations and critical essays.

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Customer Reviews

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a pretty decent translation and an outstanding point of departure for Strindberg's strange, strange dramatic world. I speak and read Swedish and have studied Strindberg in some depth, but I still find this an evocative and stimulating collection.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on February 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
In the author's introduction to "A Dream Play", Strindberg focuses on what he sees as the real nature of dreams-- disconnected and painful, with their own strange logic. I think he captures something of that feeling in all of the five plays in this collection, even given that some of his plays come more explicitly from his symbolic works.

In this collection, the reader is presented with the classic Strindberg themes-- the emancipated woman, rebellion, religious symbolism, and always in every way the search for meaning.

"The Father" pits a man and woman against each other in a destructive effort to control their daughter's destiny.

"Miss Julie" depicts the seduction and discard of a silly young girl who is harshly confronted with the basic coldness of life.

"Dance of Death" is a grim look at a marriage based on hatred, as an ex-actress and an army captain are stuck together on an isolated island.

In "A Dream Play" Indra's daughter is sent to earth to live as best as she can among mortals.

"The Ghost Sonata" explores dream logic in three movements. A meditation on the difference between just and proper.

A decent translation, at least I did not trip over it as awkward. A sad and dislocating book to read. There is a debate to be had about whether plays in general are worth reading as literature, or whether they need to be seen as performance. I would argue that these plays are both a joy to read and a joy to see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a good collection of Stringberg's plays. The five plays here are the big ones, i.e., the most produced, anthologized, influential, and read. They break down into two styles: The Father, Miss Julie, and The Dance of Death are naturalistic drama's about interpersonal battles, and The Ghost Sonata and A Dream Play are experimental, surreal dramas (though they contain aggressive, vengeful behaviour too).

The Dance of Death is my favorite. In it an older couple, Edgar, aka Captain, and his wife Alice live on an island and their cousin Kurt, who they haven't seen in several years, comes to visit. He finds them combative and mean. As the play goes along they come to seem monstrous. Alice and Edgar, like many of Strindberg's characters, are stuck in a poisonous relationship. They torment each other with verbal jabs, they're competitive, they demean each other. But somehow they're stuck together, "we are welded together and can't break free", Alice says.

Here's the Captain, who earlier in the play has become ill and is starting to fall unconscious sporadically, "I'll not die that easily, believe you me. Don't start celebrating yet, Alice!"

Like all of Strindberg's best plays, The Dance of Death is a compelling read. The characters are bitter, hostile people, but they're also completely recognizable. The play starts off simply, just an old couple spending a dull night together, but it builds up gradually. By the end it seems epic, Shakespearean even.

I'm a big fan but I'll admit, Strindberg can be hard going at first. It's sometimes hard to understand the characters - they lie to each other, they're often paranoid. It took me a while to *get* Strindberg but he's in my pantheon now. Highly recommended.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Clark on August 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Ghost Sonata is one of the most beautiful and haunting works I have ever experienced.
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