Strindberg wins Duff Cooper prize

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Strindberg: a Life wins the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize.

February 2013. Sue Prideaux was presented with the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize for non-fiction at the French Embassy in London in the 56th year of the prestigious prize.  The book was also shortlisted for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction and the 2012 Sheridan Morley Prize for theatre biography.

“The reception for my book has been astonishing and hugely gratifying,” Sue says. “Who could fail to be fascinated by such a funny and brilliant man who asked the eternal question: what does life mean?   Strindberg was part of the late nineteenth century group who saw themselves as part of a great renaissance of the intellect, part of the mystical underground current running as a counter-culture to Darwinian certainty. They were not rising up against science – but against scientism, the attitude that all phenomena were explicable. Science, they felt, had stepped into the shoes of religion. Scientists were the new keepers of priestly certainty, permitted to maintain a moral blank while mechanisation marched on and spiritual needs were ignored.  Strindberg’s quest for answers involved trying to become a doctor, corresponding with Nietzsche, learning Chinese, painting with Munch during Munch’s Scream period, marrying three impossible women, practising alchemy, starting up a theatre and writing some of the best-known plays in the world, such as Miss Julie and The Dance of Death. It was quite a life. As a biographer, I’m wondering how the heck you follow Strindberg.”

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