August Strindberg (1849–1912) was one of the great innovators of modern drama as well as a novelist, poet, and master of the Swedish language. In this collection, Selected Poems of August Strindberg, editor and translator Lotta M. Löfgren has chosen poems from all three volumes of Strindberg’s verse—Poems in Verse and Prose, Sleepwalking Nights on Awake Days, and Word Play and Minor Art—to illustrate to the English-speaking reader the development, strengths, and versatility of Strindberg the poet.
Löfgren explains, “Although August Strindberg is internationally acknowledged as a pioneering realist, expressionist, and surrealist playwright, his poetry is still relatively unknown outside Sweden. The only English translation of [his] poems to date is the 1978 translation of Sleepwalking Nights by Arvid Paulson . . . that gives an incomplete and misleading picture of Strindberg’s poetry.”
Löfgren’s translation seeks to correct that picture. Strindberg’s stature as a dramatist alone may be adequate justification for offering a translation of his verse, but his poetry stands well on its own. All three volumes broke new ground and paved the way for younger generations of poets. Löfgren hopes that her translation will not only introduce Strindberg’s verse to English-speaking readers but will also inspire other scholars to revisit his poetry and give it the attention it deserves.
Selected Poems of August Strindberg received the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Translation Prize in 2000.