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Introduction & Overview of The Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg

This Study Guide consists of approximately 119 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Ghost Sonata.
This section contains 472 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Ghost Sonata Summary & Study Guide Description

The Ghost Sonata Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on The Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg.


The Ghost Sonata is one of August Strindberg's "Chamber Plays," a series of short, simple dramas he wrote for his 161-seat Intimate Theatre, which opened its doors in Stockholm, Sweden in 1907. The plays were inspired by the chamber music of composers like Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Strindberg created The Ghost Sonata with Beethoven's Geistertrio, Opus 70, No. 1, in D Major in mind, and the play echoes the style of the music. It creates an atmosphere by repeating various themes, rather than developing a story through conventional portrayals of character and a linear plot. The themes of The Ghost Sonata mainly relate to secrets, illusions, and the disappointments and tragedies of life, and it is the revelation of these terrible details of the characters' past lives that form the action of the play.

The Ghost Sonata does not take place in the real world; or at least not in a world most people would recognize as reality. Strindberg originally subtitled his play "Kama-Loka," the name of a mystical dream world through which some mortals have to wander before reaching the kingdom of death in the afterlife. Accordingly, the characters in The Ghost Sonata speak, move and act as if they are part of a dream or a nightmare. One sees glimpses of the future, another embodies tragedies from the past. There are literal ghosts and vampires in the play, as well as a mysterious woman known as the Mummy.

The world Strindberg created in The Ghost Sonata was one he found in his own tortured imagination. On stage, his vision of an alternate reality was a forerunner to later twentieth century experiments in non-realistic dramatic literature, such as Expressionism, popular in Germany in the 1920s, and the Absurdist movement of the 1950s, made popular by writers like Samuel Beckett, Eugene lonesco, and Jean Genet. When the play was originally staged at the Intimate Theatre in 1908, its strange, avant-garde style and grim view of the world made it unpopular with critics. It wasn't until the famous director Max Reinhardt staged the play in Berlin in 1916, then toured it to Strindberg's native Sweden in 1917, that it won acclaim from audiences and reviewers. Reinhardt's production toured central Europe through the 1920s, and the play was produced by Eugene O'Neill's Province-town Players in New York in 1924 and at the Globe and Strand Theatres in London in 1926. In 1930 it was turned into an opera with music by Julius Weissmann and performed in Munich, and the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a television production of The Ghost Sonata in 1962. Reviewer Maurice Richardson noted that, even though the television production was probably seen by fewer than a million people, "it was probably a larger audience than the total number of people who had ever seen it before."

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This section contains 472 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Ghost Sonata Study Guide
The Ghost Sonata from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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