Michael Meyer (1921-2000) was a translator, novelist, biographer, and playwright, best known for his translations of the works of Ibsen and Strindberg. His biography of Ibsen won the Whitbread Prize for Biography in 1971.

Giving the Devil His Due

“what makes me think that a small collective produced shakespeare’s plays is not that I believe that a single person could not have written these plays because a single person could not have such poetic talent, be versed in so many fields and have such a broad general eduction. it …

The Magician

I worked with Ingmar Bergman for two weeks in 1970 when he came to London to direct Hedda Gabler for the National Theatre. His charm was spectacular. So were the demons that possessed him. What terrible things he said about people once their backs were turned. How skillfully he instructed …

The Richest Vagabond

“Alfred Nobel—pitiful creature, ought to have been suffocated by a humane physician when he made his howling entrance into this life. Greatest virtues: keeping his nails clean and never being a burden to anyone. Greatest weaknesses: having neither wife and kids nor sunny disposition nor hearty appetite…. Important events in …

Danger: Thin Ice

Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by the young and already much acclaimed Danish novelist Peter Hoeg, is a mystery story with heavy scientific undertones. The chief character and narrator is a half-Eskimo, half-Danish woman of thirty-seven, living in Copenhagen, a semi-voluntary exile haunted by her Greenland heritage and her memories of …

Broken Glass

August Strindberg is known outside his native Sweden chiefly as a dramatist, one of the three most influential (with Ibsen and Chekhov) since Shakespeare. Born in 1849, twenty-one years after Ibsen and eleven years before Chekhov, he was one of the most prolific and uneven of all great writers. Of …

Young Strindberg

Strindberg was the most uneven of all great writers. His collected works fill fifty-five volumes of plays, novels, short stories, sociological and philological theses, philosophy, occultism, poetry, essays—is there a single literary form with which he did not experiment? The most self-critical of human beings, he was almost totally lacking …

Ibsen in His Letters

Professor Sprinchorn has edited Ibsen’s letters so well, and translated them so unevenly, that one is torn between gratitude and indignation, with gratitude emerging a narrow victor. Ibsen was an inhibited letter writer (“I am,” he said, “a man whose chief passion is certainly not correspondence, even with his best …