Jeanette Lee Atkinson on Karl Ragnar Gierow (1980) page 12
A sceptic´s way
A side of Gierow which is not readily apparent in his poetry and drama is a ready wit and urbanity. These traits are the hallmark of his essays. Gierow has published two volumes of essays, Mina utflykter (My Excursions) in 1951 and Europa och tjuren (Europa and the Bull) in 1972. He is a peculiarly competent prose writer. His essays are highly readable, not only because of his proclivity toward unexpected aspects of uncommon topics, but also for their structure. Typically, Gierow starts the essay in one direction, only to maneuver the discussion elsewhere. At the end of the essay he arrives at the initial idea. This technique gives the essay a final, often novel point, which is not to say that Gierow presumes to answer all the questions he raises.
Gierow was head of the literary department of the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet from 1946 through 1951, during which time he enhanced the prestige of the paper considerably.10 In 1951 he was appointed Director of tile Royal Dramatic Theatre, or Dramaten, in Stockholm, and held the post into 1963. He quickly gained a reputation for his aptitude for dealing with actors, of whom he once remarked, ”Ninety percent are hysterics, and I have no use for the rest.” 11 Risking negative reactions from critics and public alike, Gierow tried to give promising Swedish playwrights access to the resources of the Dramaten. Nor was he afraid to produce dramas by writers virtually unknown outside their own countries at the time, such as Ionesco’s La leçon in 1954 and Djuna Barnes’s The Antiphon in 1961. In 1953 he oversaw a successful production of O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten, which had been a dismal failure in the U.S. During Gierow’s tenure as Director he sent his ensemble to Vienna and Paris, where it received very favorable reviews. Above all, the Swedish stage gained international recognition for its world premiere of O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 1956. The Dramaten’s stunning production of O’Neill’s masterpiece sparked a revival of interest in the playwright, who had died virtually forgotten three years previously. O’Neill’s Hughie and A Touch of the Poet also had their world premieres on the Stockholm stage. Working from O’Neill’s partially revised manuscript, Gierow produced a stage version of the incomplete More Stately Mansions, which was performed in 1962.