The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

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The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:38 pm

Left-field introduction to the work of the great Nordic crazy-man.

Last edited by eddie on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:09 pm


Thread replicated below in the event of link expiry:


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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:15 pm

August Strindberg Biography - this long and boring walk trough the shadow land of memory

A short biography
"this long and boring walk trough the shadow land of memory"

August Strindberg was born in Stockholm in 1849. Strindberg was the third child of the shipping merchant Carl Oscar Strindberg and his former domestic servant Ulrika Eleonora Norling. Before he became a writer he studied at Uppsala university and worked as a librarian and journalist.

He was a very productive author. He wrote novels, plays, poetry and over 7,000 letters! The collected works consists of 55 volumes. August Strindberg was also a very good painter. But he failed to make gold in spite of hard efforts.

1874 Strindberg is appointed assistant librarian at the Royal Library in Stockholm. His first major work, the play Master Olof, was written in 1877, but was not recognized until 1881. StrindbergĄs breakthrough as a writer came with the novel The Red Room (1879).

In 1886 Strindberg completes the biografical novel The Son of a Servant , "this long and boring walk through the shadow land of memory" as Strindberg wrote.

Siri von Essen

"Siri I loved the most" Marriages

In 1877 he marries Baroness Siri von Essen . Siri was seven months pregnant at the time of the marriage, the child died and they later had three children, Karin, Greta and the son Hans. 1888, living in Denmark, Strindberg writes the play Miss Julie, which is staged 1889 with his wife Siri von Essen in the title role. In "A Madman's Defense" Strindberg wrote about his first marriage, torn between adoration and contempt. After twelve years they divorce and Strindberg, not feeling appreciated in Sweden, moves to central Europe. After a couple of years of "artist life" with people like Edvard Munch and Gaughin he marries the young Austrian Frieda Uhl . After a stormy year travelling in Europe they divorce.

Tears of Joy

In 1895 the Inferno period starts. Strindberg gets interested in occultism and alchemy. He reads the Swedish philosopher Swedenborg</A>. These years are described in, or rather are the base for the novels Inferno and Legends.

1897 he moves back to Sweden, his recovery from the Inferno crisis is quick. After intensive work a few days in the spring of 1898 the first part of the play To Damascus is finished.
"Burst into tears several times today, wrote the end of Act 3", Stindberg notes in his diary. He was satisfied, the scenes and words came together brilliantly.

"I got her with child immediately."

In the Occult Diary, which Strindberg kept between 1896 and 1908, he summarizes his relation with his third wife Harriet Bosse.

When I married Bosse I got her with child immediatly. But she grudged me that great honour, and out of spite she went off with her unborn child. She alleged that I had deserted our bedroom, but the truth was that she had begged me to move, as pregnancy had given her a dislike for my person. She returned and the child was born. The next thing was that she did not want to have more children, but did want to continue "married life". This resulted in distaste and disgust. First we separated, then we got a divorce. After that we came together again and I became her lover, and still am. This then is the question, in what way have I failed ? My reputation was restored, but is so no longe, for her lies are enduring, in spite of all there is to confute them! At 50 I was no good as a husband, but at 58 I am good enough to be a lover! It is sublime! Sublime !!!"

From the "Occult Diary"

Strindberg kept his "Occult Diary" for more than ten years. The extract below is from 1908. He has divorced Harriet Bosse and she is planning to remarry with another man. But in Strindberg´s fantasy she still visits him, mostly at nighttime .

April 20th.
This evening she came again, like roses, loving and full of longing.
Night came; she slept on my arm, but did not desire me until towards
morning, then ...

April 21st.
The whole morning, solely as roses. Later she disappeared! In the evening she returned, but went again. At night apathetic and calm until the morning,when she sought me ...

April 23rd.
A heavy day, spent in idleness. Slept much. Harriet away, but towards evening could feel her stretching for me below the chest.
!!Went to bed, grew calmer. No contact with Harriet during the night. I sought her but did not find her until 5 o´clock, ...

April 24th.
A glorius morning. Harriet was with me all forenoon, gentle, loving, like flowers in my mouth!
Is she literally two persons? And do I possess one? The better one?
That would seem to be the case, for when we meet or write we hate
each other. Is this possible?


Finally Strindberg released himself from Bosse, quit the Occult Diary and moved to a new apartment. Now followed some very productive years with highlights such as the plays Easter and The Dance of Death.
Strindberg died in May, 1912. His modest grave with just a wooden cross bears the Latin inscription:
O Crux Ave Spes Unica!
(O Cross, Be Greeted, Our Only Hope)

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:16 pm

August Strindberg asks himself

1. What is the main trait in your character?
This strange blending of the deepest melancholy and the most astonishing light heartedness.

2 Which characteristic do you prize most highly in a man?
Absence of narrow mindedness.

3. Which characteristic do you prize most highly in a woman?

4. Which talent would you most like to possess?
To find the key to the world's mystery and the meaning of life.

5. Which fault would you least like to possess?
Narrow mindedness.

6. What is your favorite occupation?
To write dramas.

7. What would be the greatest happiness you could imagine?
To be nobody's enemy and to have no enemies.

8. What position would you most have liked to have?
To be a dramatist whose dramas were always being played.

9. What would you regard as the greatest misfortune?
To be without peace of mind and conscience.

10. Where would you most like to live?
In the Stockholm skerries.

11.Your favorite colour?
Zinc yellow and amethyst violet.

12.Your favorite flower?

13.Your favorite creature?
The butterfly.

14.Which books do you like most?
The Bible; Chateaubriand's Genie du Christianisme; Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia; Victor Hugo's Les Mise'rables; Dickens's Little Dorrit; Andersen's Fairy Tales; Bernardin de SaintPierre's Harmoni de la Nature. Kipling: various.

15.Which paintings do you like most?
Theodore Rousseau's "Paysages Intimes." Various.

16.Which musical compositions do you like most?
Beethoven's Sonatas.

17. Which English writer do you admire most?
Charles Dickens.

18. Which English painter do you admire most?

19. Which male historical personages do you admire most?
Henri IV of France and Bernard of Clairvaux.

20. Which female historical personages do you admire most?
P;Elizabeth of I hźringen and Marguerite de Provence (consort of Louis i.e. Holy).

21. Which historical personage do you most despise?
One has no right to despise anybody.

22. Which fictitious male characters most attract you?
Balzacs Louis Lambert: and the Bishop in Les Miserables by Victor

23. Which fictitious female characters most attract you?
Margaretha in Faust and Florence in Dombey and Son.

24. Which name do you like best?

25. Which fault in others do you find it easiest to forgive?

26. Which social reform would you most like to see accomplished?

27. Your favorite drink and your favorite food?
Beer and fish dishes.

28. Which season and which weather do you like best?
The height of summer after warm rain.

29. Your motto?
Speravit infestis.

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:20 pm

(Johan) August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Swedish playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, who combined in his works psychology, naturalism, and later elements of new literary forms. Strindberg was married three times – several of his plays drew on the problems of his marriages and reflected his constant interest in self-analysis. A sensitive and controversial writer, who suffered from hostile reviews, Strindberg represented the 19th-century ideal of artist as a free personality, unrestrained by convention.

"My souls (characters) are conglomerations of past and present stages of civilization, bits from books and newspapers, scraps of humanity, rags and tatters of fine clothing, patched together as is the human soul. And I have added a little evolutionary history by making the weaker steal and repeat the words of the stronger, and by making the characters borrow ideas or "suggestions" from one another."
(author's foreword to Miss Julie, in Six Plays of Strindberg, 1955)

August Strindberg was born in Stockholm. His father, Carl Oscar Strindberg, proud of a trace of aristocratic blood, was a shipping agent, but his business success was relatively modest. Strindberg's mother, Ulrika Eleanora Norling, had a proletarian background. She was a tailor's daughter, who had been a domestic servant and become Carl Oscar's mistress. August was their third son; the couple had nine more children. Strindberg's childhood was poor and miserable – he was shy and family tensions depressed him. Ulrika Eleanora died when he was 13 years old. After his father remarried, Strindberg came to hate his stepmother. To underline his sympathies with the lower-classes, Strindberg entitled his autobiography The Son of a Servant (1886).

In 1867 Strindberg entered the University of Uppsala, where he failed to pass the preliminary examination in chemistry. He worked for a short time at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, and wrote for the stage three plays that were rejected. Strindberg returned to his studies in Uppsala and completed in 1872 a senior candidacy. Back in Stockholm, Strindberg worked as a journalist and wrote the historical drama MÄSTER OLOF, about the introspective Swedish Protestant reformer Olaus Petri. It was written in the spirit of Shakespeare but Strindberg also adopted influences from Schiller.

Strindberg became in 1874 an assistant librarian at the Royal Library, serving until his resignation in 1882. He married in 1877 Baroness Siri von Essen, who had been wife of Baron Carl Gustaf Wrangel, and was a member of the Swedish aristocracy in Finland. By the time of the marriage Siri was seven months pregnant; the child died and they had later three more children, one of whom, Kristin, wrote an account of her parents' stormy life together. In EN DĹRES FÖRSVALTAL (1887, A Madman's Defense) Strindberg returned to his first marriage in a story in which the narrator is torn between adoration and revulsion. However, first the marriage brought some balance into Strindberg's life.

Strinberg´s first published novel, RÖDA RUMMET (1879, The Red Room), a satirical story about early capitalism and corruption in Stockholm, made him nationally famous. Arvid Falk, the central character, is an aspiring writer who loses all his illusions, and finally accepts bourgeois family life. With this book Strindberg started his career as one of the most prominent figures in Nordic literature and culture. Master Olof, which first had been rejected, was produced in 1881 and received with enthusiasm.

SVENSKA FOLKET (1880-82) was an excursion into the history of Sweden. Far from trying to establish himself as Sweden's national writer, Strindberg attacked the nation's central values, official history writing, and made himself unpopular among academic historians. Strindberg's revenge on his critics was DET NYA RIKET (1882), a dissection of Oscarian Sweden. In Denmark he was accused of antisemitism.

To escape the uproar which he had stirred up, and partly to follow the example of many other Scandinavian writers, Strinberg decided to travel abroad. He first moved in 1883 to France with his family and between the years 1884 and 1887 he lived with short interruptions in Switzerland. During this time he corresponded with Friedrich Nietzsche, and became interested of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Under financial and marital difficulties, Strindberg started to show symptoms of emotional crisis. Feelings of persecution were suppressed by heavy drinking of absinthe. Eventually he started to believe his wife wanted to have him locked away in a mental institution.

The publication of the first part of his scenes of marital life GIFTAS (1884, Getting Married), outraged the Swedish establishment, especially the short story 'Reward of virtue', in which Strindberg mocked the Holy Communion. The book was confiscated, Strindberg was prosecuted for blasphemy but acquitted. In Sweden the younger generation hailed him as a hero. Getting Married was inspired by Ibsen's play A Doll's House (1883), but Strindberg was more on the side of Nora's husband. However, Strindberg's egalitarian vision of gender roles was radical for its day and age, although at the same time he accepted the idea that celibacy could lead to physical debility.

FRÖKEN JULIE (1888, Miss Julie), Stridberg's next major drama after FADREN (1887, The Father), coupled one of his favorite themes, the Darwinian battle between the sexes, with a social struggle and love-hate bond. Strindberg wrote it durring his stay in Denmark. The protagonist, Julie, a daughter of a count, allows herself to be seduced by her father's servant Jean. She must then confront the situation, in which Jean, a man on the rise, turns out to be the stronger person. Julie causes her own tragic fate. Unable to arrive at any reasonable plan, she orders Jean to hypnotize her into committing suicide. Miss Julie had its premiere at Strindberg's Experimental Theater in Copenhagen in 1889.

"The Thčâtre Libre did not start its activity by proclaiming any program; it has never developed an aesthetic, never wanted to for a school... All prohibitive laws have been canceled, and only the demands of taste and of the modern spirit are allowed to determine the artistic form."

(from 'On Modern Drama and Modern Theatre', 1889, in Samlade Skrifter, XVII, 1913)

After completing Miss Julie, Strindberg wrote in 1889 with Antoine's Théâtre Libre a group of one act plays, PARIA, DEN STARKARE, and SAMUM, and returned to Sweden. He divorced from Siri von Essen and moved to Berlin, where he met an Austrian journalist Maria Uhl, known as Frida Uhl, his second wife, whom he married in 1893. Their honeymoon the couple spent in London, but after disagreements Strindberg escaped to the island of Rügen. The marriage became the subject of his autobiographical sketch, KLOSTRET (1966, The Cloister), but he also dealt with marital problems in some minor works, as in the short story 'An Attenmpt at Reform'. In the ironic picture of "a model marriage" a young couple try to live together but maintain at the same their independence. They have separate rooms, share expenses and household work equally, and throw away the double bed, "that abomination which has no counterpart in nature and is responsible for a great deal of dissipation and immorality." After the birth of their baby, the husband asks himself: "Didn't she do her full share of of the work by mothering the baby? Wasn't that as good as money?" And the wife soon gets over the fact that he had to keep her.

Haunted by guilt about deserting his children and attacked by his critics, Strindberg became possessed of a persecution mania. He also suffered from insomnia and psoriasis, and spent some weeks in the St. Louis Hospital in Paris. Between the years 1892 and 1897 Strindberg experienced several psychotic episodes, and recorded his tormented thoughts later in Inferno. Turning to painting, Strindberg created in the 1890s seascapes, which have been compared to the works of Turner. His favorite motifs included a vision from a cave toward the outside world and a wave breaking in open sea. With the help of Swedenborgian studies, and adopting the idea that certain people are destined to suffer, he emerged from the crisis.

While spending the summer of 1892 on Dalarö, he produced about thirty paintings. His first exhibition Strindberg held in the same year. It was not a success; only two canvases were bought. Alone in Paris in the mid-1890s, Strindberg becomes interested in alchemy and tries to prove that it is possible to make gold. For his neighbor, Paul Gauguin he writes a an insightful letter which the artist uses as a preface to his catalogue. "I cannot grasp your art and I cannot like it," Strindberg said. "But I know that this confession will neither surprise nor injure you, for you seem to me to be thoroughly fortified by the hatred of others; in its desire to be left alone, your character takes pleasure in the antipathy that it provokes." After stopping painting in 1905, Strindberg built with the photographer Herman Andersson the "Wunderkamera", with which he made photographic portraits.

In the novel I HAVSBANDET (1890, By the Open Sea) Strindberg expressed his fascination with the sea and Swedish archipelago, which he had depicted in HEMSÖBORNA (1887, The Natives of Hemsö), a return to his favorite place of his youth, the island of Kymmendö, where he had began to write Mäster Olaf. "A dark cliff came into view on the headland of the last island. It was coal-black, made of the volcanic rock diorite, and as he drew near it he became depressed. The black chrystallised mass seemed to have been spewed up from the bottom of the sea and then, as it had begun to petrify, had been involved in a fearful struggle with the water or some thunder-cloud."(from By the Open Sea)

Strindberg moved to Stockholm and wrote during the following productive years from 1898 to 1909 thirty-six plays. In the Damascus trilogy 1898-1901, PĹSK (1901, Easter), and ETT DRÖMSPEL (1901, A Dream Play) Strindberg made use of details of his second marriage. The protagonist of the trilogy is called the 'Stranger' or 'The Unknown One', a man on a journey to discover his fate. He has left his wife and children and goes through a series of trials. In PĹSK (Easter) Strindberg deals with the theme of death and resurrection. The play tells a story of a woman, who lives with her children in fear of the coming of the creditor, who, in fact, brings reconciliation and the remission of debt.

"In old Greek the word drama seems to have meant event, not action or what we call conscious intrigue. For life does not move as regularly as a constructed drama, and conscious spinners of intrigue very seldom get a chance to carry out their plans in detail. Thus we no longer believe in these cunning plotters who, unhindered, are permitted to control people's destinies, so that the villain in his conscious falseness merely arouses our ridicule as not being true to life."

(from 'On Modern Drama and Modern Theatre', 1889, in Samlade Skrifter, XVII, 1913)

In A Dream Play Strindberg attempted to imitate the logical form of a dream. Time and space are not important in the dramaturgy, the characters split, all thoughts and perceptions emanate from a single individual's unconscious, the dreamer's. Behind the character of the luminous protagonist, Daughter of Indra, who descends to earth, was the young actress Harriet Bosse, who became the author's third wife. The emphasis on subjectivity in the play foreshadowed Freud's theories about the gap between the conscious and unconscious.

Strindberg's series of historical plays from this period included GUSTAV VASA, (1899), ERIK XIV (1899), a portrait of a man who was half-genius, half-psychopath, and GUSTAF ADOLF (1900), said to be unplayable, in which the king is an instument of the ideal of religious freedom. In the novel SVARTA FANOR (1904, Black Banners) Strindberg took his revenge after decades of negative critic and condemned with a Biblical fury his colleagues, wrong prophets, and parasites of culture. Strindberg continied his religious and natural philosophical speculations in Zones of the Spirit (1907-1912) and its sequels. GÖTISKA RUMMEN (1904) was written as a companion piece to Röda rummet from 1879, but Strindberg's youthful vigour had gone, and had been replaced by bitterness and misantrophy.

During 1907-08 Strindberg undertook a series of experiments in order to establish an intimate theater, based on his innovations on the form of chamber music. He discharged the single protagonist in favor of a small group of equally important characters, creating a drama that would impress by its mood and atmosphere. In contrast to the ill and corrupt characters who people the dramas, Strindberg created an individual, who is capable of perceiving supernatural phenomena, and of stripping away the facades of lies and deceits. Among Strindberg's works from 1907 were such chamber plays as OVÄDER (1906, The Thunderstorm), BRÄNDA TOMTEN (1907, After the Fire), in which everything is worse that the protagonist expects, SPÖKSONATEN (1907, The Ghost Sonata), an unmasking of a middle-class pretensions, and PELIKANEN (1908, The Pelican), in which the final purgation happens through fire. Strindberg called his plays "kammerspiel" after Max Reinhardt's "Kammerspiel-Haus" in Berlin. STORA LANDSVÄGEN (1909, The Great Highway) was Strindberg's final allegorical self-portrayal. Ofter characterized as the author's literary testament, Strindberg himself appeared in the figure of the hunter who climbs down from the mountain – like Zarathustra.

In 1908 Strindberg settled into a house he called "the Blue Tower" and lived there until his death from stomach cancer on May 14, 1912. According to his wish, Strindberg was buried beneath wooden crucifixes with the inscription O Crux Ave Spes Unica. Faithful to his role as an iconoclast and a disturber, Strindberg fuelled the so-called Strindberg Feud from 1910 to his death with a series of newspaper articles on social, literary, and political issues. Like Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Strindberg never received the Nobel Prize for literature. However, he had actively supported the Trades Union movement and was awarded its alternative Nobel Prize.

Strindberg wrote more than 70 plays as well as novels, short-stories and studies of Swedish history. His influnce has been wide. As a dramatist he was a source of inspiration to the German expressionists, and to Eugene O'Neill, Eugčne Ionesco, and Tennessee Williams, and his impact is seen among others in the works of such playwrights as Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, John Osborne, and John Arden. Pär Lagerkvist wrote about Strindberg in Modern Theatre (1966): "And it is a fact that he has meant the renewal of the modern drama, and thereby also the gradual renewal of the theatre. It is from him and through him that naturalism received the critical blow, even though it is also Strindberg who gave naturalism its most intense dramatic works."

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:21 pm

The Occult Diary is well worth reading. I'm afraid I find much of it irresistibly funny: the worst hangover you've ever had multiplied to the nth degree.

August leaves his house and three black crows fly over the rooftop. His nerves already shattered, he encounters a female dwarf on the corner of the street selling lilacs .

...and so it goes on.

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  Lee Van Queef on Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:34 am

How funny, I just typed in 'Diary August Strindberg' into google and this forum popped up near the top. I must have missed this thread. Good job Eddie. cheers

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Re: The Occult Diary of August Strindberg

Post  eddie on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:27 pm

All human life is here on ATU, if you look hard enough.

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