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One way of classifying biographies is to divide them into those that apply their own interpretative framework – be it psychoanalytic, gender-based, socio-historical, and so on – to a given subject and those that aim to meet the subject, on their own terms, or at least in terms that the subject would recognise. There are good and bad things to say about both approaches, but Sue Prideaux’s life of Strindberg (1849–1912) shows that if you get it right, there is nothing quite as satisfying as the latter. Not only does she meet Strindberg on his own ground, but by the close of this extraordinary book you are convinced that, even across the 100 years since his death, Strindberg would seek out his latest biographer as a friend.

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