Strindberg and the Quest for Sacred Theatre


Strindberg and the Quest for Sacred Theatre brings a fresh perspective to the study of Sweden’s great playwright. August Strindberg (1849-1912) anticipated most of the major developments in European theatre over the last century. As such he is well-placed to provide perspectives on the current burgeoning interest in sacred theatre. The religious crises of the 19th Century provoked in Strindberg both sharp scepticism about claims to religious authority and a visionary search for truth. Against the backdrop of a major change in European culture this book traces the emergence in some of Strindberg’s late plays of a proto-sacred-theatre. It argues that Strindberg faced the alternatives of a contentless transcendent abyss, threatening the extinction of his ego, or a retreat into conservative theism, reducing him to slavish submission to the commandments and rule of an external father-God. Weaving together theatrical, aesthetic, and theological voices, this book investigates the relationship of the sacred to subjectivity and its implications for Strindberg’s dramaturgy. In doing so it always keeps in view the sense both of loss and opportunity engendered by a turning point in the western experience of the sacred.
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Table of contents

A Note on Strindberg Texts Acknowledgments Introduction Salvation and Subversion in To Damascus Incarnation and Liberation in A Dream Play Illusion and the Void in four Chamber Plays The Reversal of Dante in The Great Highway Conclusion Appendix: Kierkegaard, Brand and Master Olof Bibliography Names Index