Strindberg in Paris 1894
Strindberg´s great novel Inferno, a story of human suffering and
The novel Inferno is mainly based on his strange experiences in Paris from 1894 - 1896, the inferno crisis. He wrote the book
Inferno in French, some parts in the form of a diary. It can be said to be a story
of loneliness, drinking and paranoia, that in the end leads to clarity and
reconciliation. Strindberg sees himself haunted by misfortunes and hardships, much
like Job in the bible.
Strindberg was eager to emphasize that the book was autobiographical. At the end of
Inferno he writes:|
"The reader who believes this book is fiction is invited to read my diary which I have kept daily since 1895, and of which the above is only an expanded and organized extraction"
August Strindberg making gold.
"Alone, completely alone I have my
dinner on a tray in my room, and I eat so little that the goodnatured servant is
inconsolable. I have not heard my own voice for a whole week, and due to lack of
practise it is vanishing. I have not got a sou in my pockets, no tobacco or stamps
either. Then I gather all my strength of will in a last effort. I want
to make gold using the dry method with the aid of fire."
In July Strindberg´s inferno crisis reaches a peak. The heat in Paris is intense and Strindberg feels that life is unbearable. He expects a catastrophe. Death seems a solution and he writes:
"I had been reading the precious little pamphlet
The Delight of Dying and it aroused a longing to leave this world. In order to
investigate the borderland between life and death I lie down on bed, uncork the
bottle of cyanide and let its deadly fumes fill the room. He is coming closer, the
Reaper, so mild and seductive, but at the last moment someone always appears or
something happens that cuts everything off; The waiter has an errand, a wasp flies
in through the window.
After "a night of horror" Strindberg fled from the Hotel Orfila in July 1896. The day before he wrote a letter about the reality of fantasy:
Cover by Strindberg, 1897"If I see my pillow taking on human shapes, then those shapes are there, and if someone says that they are only (!) generated by imagination, I will reply: Only you say?
- What my inner sees, is more to me! And what I see in that pillow is made out of the feathers of birds, which once were carriers of life, with a soul, with the power to create forms, and out of linen which once carried the life force in its fibres, reality, since I am able to draw these forms and show them to others. There are times when I hear a cricket singing inside that pillow. The sound made by the grasshoper has always seemed to me as if it came from some empty hall down below, underneath the surface of the earth. Now, assume that these once sang in a field of flax, do you not believe that Nature or the Creator could use the vegetable fibre as a phonograph, so that it plays to my inner ear which trough suffering, deprivation and prayer has become willing to hear farter than before? But that is where natural explanations do not suffice, and I abandon them instantly!! "
Strindberg in Ystad, Sweden 1896
August Strindberg returns to Sweden in the autumn of 1896. He stayes at a friend , a doctor, and "pulls himself together" as you can see on the picture. Next spring, 1897, he
writes Inferno in french , one of his masterpieces. My conviction is that he never was really
crazy, just put under a strain. Recently divorced , with newborn baby, living alone in Paris, drinking to much etc.. As simple as that.
Remember that he hardly never stopped writing even
during the critical weeks that hot July 1896.
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