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December 11 , 2009

On the Seaboard


August Strindberg's first literary productions were warmly received, and would have aroused lasting enthusiasm and admiration had the young author's prolific pen been less aggressive, in this, for his country, a totally new style of novel. His intrepid sarcasm which emanated from a physical disability, known only to a few of his most intimate friends, called forth severe criticism from the old aristocrats and the conservative element, which drove the gifted dramatist from his own country to new spheres. Life's vicissitudes at Vierwaldstätter See, and Berlin, also later on at Paris from whence his fame spread rapidly over Europe, changed his realism to pessimism.

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On the Seaboard

What starts out as an account of a humdrum administrative assignment is elevated to an existential examination of the meaning of life in Swedish author August Strindberg's novel On the Seaboard. A bureaucrat is sent to a remote island outpost with the task of educating the local fishermen about advances in fishing techniques, but he is unprepared…

After years of ceaseless work, during which he dipped into almost every branch of science, he suddenly determined to transfer his activities to this side of the Atlantic, where he was desirous of becoming known. For this purpose his most singular novel was chosen for translation; meantime some invisible power drew him back to his birthplace, Stockholm, and a new generation cheered his coming.

Later on critics called him "A demolisher and a reformer that came like a cyclone, with his daring thought and daring words, which broke in upon the everlasting tenets and raised Swedish culture."

His delineations are photographical exactness without retouch, bearing always a strong reflection of his personality.


Boston, Mass.
April, 1913.

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