Miss Julie and Other Plays (Anglais) Broché – 13 novembre 2008
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author of "Love and Madness"
Imagine for a moment Hell as a viciously bad and eternal marriage, an unrelenting war between partners yearning for release, nearly achieving that release only to be pulled back into the marriage for another spin on the dance floor of mutual abuse. There, in a nutshell, you have Strindberg's often-produced, greatly admired, and quite influential The Dance of Death (I). Should you ever have the opportunity to see it performed, seize it, for it is more than a play; it is an experience. Better still, if that opportunity presents itself as a small venue, like a one hundred- or fifty-seat house, you'll enjoy the play even more.That's because you'll feel as if you are in someone's sitting room witnessing the most vicious exchanges between marital partners. To put a finer point on it, it will be like tagging along with George and Martha as they drunkenly thrash each other in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a play informed by Strindberg's.
Should this all sound off-putting and dreary to you, realize Strindberg had a gift for injecting humor into the most dire of circumstances. It's of the very black type that makes you titter with personal knowledge, or embarrassment, or gratitude you are not his inspiration, especially if those inspirations are playing out the drama at your very feet.
On the subject of man and woman together in marriage, in the war between man and woman, he knew of what he wrote. The man managed to alienate three wives (marriages resulting in five children, a boy and four girls). His genius, though, and sharply tuned radar for hypocrisy allowed him a clear view of the relationship and legal problems of his day regarding marriage, divorce, and child custody, all reflected in this play.
As for the play, it concerns Edgar, an old army officer, and his wife Alice, a thwarted actress, on the cusp of celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They live on an island quarantine station (common in the period to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the time before antibiotics). Though there is a garrison on the island, they aren't very popular, particularly Edgar; the result is no friends and even greater isolation. Edgar speaks constantly of dying, that being his escape hatch from the marriage. Alice continually demonstrates her bitterness about her marriage to him and what he forced her to give up. They have children who do not live with them because they each turned the children against the other. Thus, they find themselves locked in constant warfare, unable to give each other up, except, of course, with the final release of death. Alice does see a chance at freedom when her cousin Kurt shows up, the very cousin who introduced the pair. In Edgar's absence, their liking for each other devolves into an all out sexual assault upon each other (quite the spectacle in a small venue, for sure), with Alice seeing Kurt as her salvation. Kurt , however, comes to his senses, leaves them, and they go on as before.
Worth reading, and most definitely a must-see if a theatre group mounts a production near you.
The Father-A strong battle between a long married couple the Captain and Laura. He wonders aloud if his daughter Bertha is his while his wife Laura succeeds in sending him to a mental institution for his perceived madness. The play evinces the misogyny of Strindberg which this reviewer finds personally repugnant!
Miss Julie-This is Strindberg s greatest play. In it we see a young woman Julie who has been raised as a boy to a decaying aristocratic family fall in love with Jean a lowly but bright servant. All of the action takes place on the estate of Miss Julie on Midsummer s Eve night. The play explores the theme of class and the war between the sexes. Miss Julie is a dark tragedy.
The Dance of Death portrays a marital couple who hate and love each other at the same time. The play foreshadows such later works as Edward Albee s Who';s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as it shows an old married couple in conflict.
A Dream Play-An expressionistic work of one act in which various voices speak in poetry and prose. Strindberg s third wife a famous actress starred in the first production.
The Ghost Sonata-A student has his strings pulled by old Hummel a personification of the Devil. The play is reminiscent of Faust by Marlowe and Goethe.
I like the naturalistic plays much better than the expressionistic dramas. Strindberg s major themes are":
a. An assertion of male power over the weaker female.
b. The belief in the survival of the strongest in a cold and indifferent universe . Social Darwinism run rampant!
c. The struggle between the classes of society
d. Human life in the madhouse of the world.
Strindberg is a dark artist who will not be to everyone s liking. The world is a cruel place and humanity is trapped in its mortality. Strindberg writes with passion and many of the plays emerge from the situation of his own life situation. His preface to the play Miss Julie is included in this edition and is well worth reading.
Overall, a great play and Strindberg integrates many themes of love, religion, sexuality, relationships, social class in his naturalistic style of writing. The play is very unique in its nature and at times very dramatic and extreme in its contents and imagery and ends with much sadness, hence the name "dark tragedy". This translation is very clear and benefical and which greatly aided me in writing my final paper.
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