It is safe to say that a Norwegian, Henrik Ibsen, and a Swede, August Strindberg, laid the groundwork for modernism in drama. They have become internationally known. The major Scandinavian playwrights in the generation to follow, Gunnar Heiberg in Norway and Hjalmar Bergman and Pär Lagerkvist in Sweden, never developed an international reputation for their drama, though Lagerkvist, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951, achieved wide recognition as a novelist. In an epoch-making manifesto, “Modern teater: Synpunkter och angrepp” (1918; “Modern Theatre: Points of View and Attack,” 1966), Lagerkvist declared that the playwright was at the crossroads: He had to choose between Ibsen’s psychological realism, and Strindberg’s expressionism and spiritual fantastication. This was Bergman’s challenge as he wandered from one extreme to the other, testing the boundaries and exploring the ground between. Inevitably, Bergman’s sense of theater put him rather closer to the spirit of Strindberg. Of the three playwrights of his generation, only Bergman developed anything like an international reputation in the theater, chiefly through Georges and Ludmilla Pitoëff in Paris. In the United States, he remains largely unproduced and unknown; in Sweden he is the only important playwright after Strindberg and an important way-station between Strindberg and Ingmar Bergman, who was no relation but felt a strong affinity for his namesake. The legacy is a peculiar...
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Bock, Sigge. Lowly Who Prevail: Vistas to the Work of Hjalmar Bergman. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 1990. A critical analysis of the work of Bergman, with emphasis on religion in his writings. Bibliography and indexes.
Linder, Erik Hjalmar. Hjalmar Bergman. Boston: Twayne, 1975. A basic biography of Bergman that covers his life and works. Bibliography and index.
Petherick, Karin. Hjalmar Bergman: “Markurells i Wadköping.” 2d ed. Hull, England: Orton and Holmes, 1976. This study of God’s Orchid, one of Bergman’s novels, sheds light on his dramatic works. Bibliography.
Scobbie, Irene, ed. Aspects of Modern Swedish Literature. Rev. ed. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1999. In addition to placing Bergman within the wider tradition, this work contains a chapter on the life and works of Bergman.
Warme, Lars G., ed. A History of Swedish Literature. Vol. 3 in History of Scandinavian Literatures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. Provides information on the works of Bergman and explains his role in Swedish literature.