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Plays By August Strindberg
by August Strindberg
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PLAYSBYAUGUST STRINDBERGTHE DREAM PLAYTHE LINKTHE DANCE OF DEATH, PART ITHE DANCE OF DEATH, PART IITRANSLATED WITH AN INTRODUCTIONEDWIN BJORKMAN1913INTRODUCTIONTo the first volume of his remarkable series of autobiographical novels, August Strindberg gave the name of The Bondwomans Son. The allusion was twofoldto his birth andto the position which fate, in his own eyes, seemed to haveassigned him both as man and artist.If we pass on to the third part of his big trilogy, To Damascus, also an autobiographical work, but written nearly twentyyears later, we find The Stranger, who is none but the author,saying: I was the Bondwomans Son, concerning whom itwas writ Cast out this bondwoman and her son for the sonof the bondwoman shall not be heir with the free womansson.And The Lady, back of whom we glimpse Strindbergs second wife, replies: Do you know why Ishmael was cast out?It is to be read a little further backbecause he was a scoffer And then it is also said: He will be a wild manhis hand will be against every man, and every mans handagainst him and he shall dwell in opposition to all his brethrenThese quotations should be read in conjunction with stillanother, taken from Strindbergs latest play, The GreatHighway, which, while being a sort of symbolical summaryof his life experience, yet pierces the magic circle of selfconcern within which too often he has remained a captive.There The Hermit asks: You do not love your fellowmen? And Strindberg, masquerading as The Hunter, criesin answer: Yes, far too much, and fear them for that reason,August Strindberg was born at Stockholm, Sweden, onJanuary 1849. His father was a small tradesman, whohad lost his business just before August was born, but whohad the energy and ability to start all over again as a steamship agent, making a decided success of his second venture.The success, however, was slow in coming, and the boysearliest years were spent in the worst kind of povertythatpoverty which has to keep up outward appearances,The mother had been a barmaid in one of the numerousinns forming one of the Swedish capitals most characteristicfeatures. There the elder Strindberg had met her and fallendeeply in love with her. August was their third child, born acouple of months after their relationship had become legalizedin spite of bitter opposition from the husbands family. Otherchildren followed, many of them dying early, so that Augustcould write in later years that one of his first concrete recollections was of the blackjacketed candy which used to be passedaround at every Swedish funeral.Though the parents were always tired, and though thelittle home was hopelessly overcrowdedten persons livingin three roomsyet the family life was not without its happiness. Only August seemed to stand apart from the rest,having nothing in common with his parents or with the otherchildren. In fact, a sort of warfare seems to have been raging incessantly between him and his elder brothers.
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