By Margery Morgan (auth.)
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Extra info for August Strindberg
None of these was a quart d'heure piece, or even a standard one-act play, but all were major in length, substance and quality. The title, To Damascus, referring to the conversion of Saint Paul, signified a profound mental and emotional revolution. Essentially religious preoccupations take over, and the old naturalistic scepticism has a hard struggle to survive. Yet the interest Strindberg had taken in new tendencies in the visual arts and his understanding of how artistic perception and expression respond to new scientific concepts of the universe contribute as much to the new kind of play he now created.
Gustav, who has carefully freed himself from all relationships of mutual or one-sided dependence and, finally, declares his preference for aloneness, with no wife or fiancee and no home, is the cynic of the play. He has adopted Schopenhauer's notorious definition of woman as his own: A half-developed man, a child stunted in mid-growth, a youth with udders on his chest, a case of chronic anaemia who has regular haemorrages thirteen times a year. (trans. M. Meyer 1. 187) What prompts the recitation is the figure which Adolf is sculpting: the nude, still faceless figure of a woman which stands on stage, sometimes veiled, sometimes revealed, as the play's central point of reference.
O. J ohannesson has in teres tingly sugges ted an analogy between A Madman's Defence and such exemplars of the novel of consciousness as F. M. Ford's The Good Soldier and Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, in which the narrator uncovers and presents 'the truth' of a situation but becomes an increasingly questionable medium of interpretation and, ultimately, the focal character in the work, to be judged as other characters are judged. 13 We know that in the late 1880s, Strindberg became passionately interested in Edgar Allan Poe, pioneer explorer of SUbjective states and the kind of occult experience presented in Inferno, through the hero's consciousness of unseen forces and, especially, a personal malignancy directing his life from a distance.
August Strindberg by Margery Morgan (auth.)