ANNE CHARLOTTE LEFFLER AND
Women and New Women on the Fin-de-Siecle Scandinavian Stage
Charlotte Leffler (1849-1892) was the most important European
woman playwright of the last decades of the nineteenth century
and together with Ibsen and Strindberg one of the Scandinavian
pioneers of modern and modernist drama.
R. Wilkinson is Associate Professor of Germanic Studies,
Comparative Literature, and Women's
and Gender Studies at the
University of Texas at Austin.
She has published The
Dream of an Absolute Language:
Emanuel Swedenborg and French Literary Culture, as
well as many articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century
Scandinavian and European literature, culture, and film.
Lynn R. Wilkinson's Anne
Charlotte Leffler and Modernist Drama is the first
full-length study of Leffler's dramatic production.
It argues that Leffler's plays deserve to be read and
performed today alongside those of Ibsen and Strindberg, as they
indeed were during her lifetime, and will serve as a welcome
resource for new productions of her plays and studies of her
Born the same year as August Strindberg, Anne Charlotte Leffler
was a far more successful playwright in Scandinavia and
elsewhere during her lifetime.
After her death, however, literary histories dismissed
her work as an example of the propagandistic literature of the
Swedish 1880s. But
beginning in the 1970s, revivals of her plays in theaters and on
television have rekindled interest in Leffler and her work.
Scoring her first theatrical success in 1873 with a play about a
young actress who rejects marriage for a career on the stage,
Leffler wrote fourteen plays that were either published or
performed in theaters throughout Scandinavia and Europe - often to considerable critical acclaim.
All address the situation of women, but often in
connection with other issues, such as the exploitation of the
working classes or the repressiveness of late-nineteenth-century
European culture, and in a range of styles.
Her feminist classic, the realist True
Women, centers on the conflicts that arise on one household
when a daughter opposes her spendthrift father's claim to the
last of his wife's money.
But it premiered together with the avant-garde one-act A
Saving Angel, which depicts in the form of a dance the
unsettling effects of urban sexuality on a group of young women.
And Leffler's last play, The
Ways of Truth, is a dream play that draws on flâneur
narratives to show the wanderings of an intellectual heroine and
her companion through scenes from late-nineteenth-century