Buy Study Guide The play begins with a Student entering the stage, which depicts a street outside the fancy townhouse of a Colonel. The Student approaches a water fountain and asks the Milkmaid standing nearby for a cup of water. He has had a sleepless night, after acting heroically the previous night at the site of a collapsing house in town. Nearby, the Old Man, Jacob Hummel, tells the Student he has been reading of his heroics in the newspaper.

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Ill, No. IT, july-Sep. Dramaten , Stockholm: Prisma, The illustrations have been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Swedish Institute in Stockholm. Prologue An Important event in theatre history occurred III late autumn when the young actor and theatre manager August Falck met the elderly writer August Strindberg. A year later the idea had be- come reality. Strindberg had several times earlier tried to set up a theatre of his own, no- tably In r when he founded his sbortlivcd Scandinavian Experimental Theatre In Copenhagen.

Inspired by the new theatre plans, Strindberg quickly wrote his four dum- ber plays, each of them characterized, as he puts it, by the intimate in form, a restricted subject, treated In depth, few characters, large points of View, free imagination, but based on observation, experience, carefully studied; sim- ple, but not too simple; no great apparatus, no superfluous minor roles, no regular five" nctcrs or "old machines," no long-drawn-our whole evenings.

Appar- ently the last two were written very quickly and more or less simultaneously. Falck informs us: I was allowed to sit in the room outside and steal in on my toes to fetch a few manu- script pages. He wrote with whizzing speed, pulled away the completed pages and threw them unhlotred on the floor, where I collected them, carried them away and sat down to read them. Short notes, difficult to grasp, were strown around him on the table, in the drawers, in his pockets.

The chamber plays arose like a jigsaw puzzle from these frag- ments. It has form and content: the Wisdom that collies with the years when our knowledge of life has accumulated and wc have acquired the ability to comprehend it. People are too proud to admit it; most of them boast about their imaginary happiness, and generdlly hide their misery. The Colonel plays his auto-comedy to the end; illusion [Maya] [the veil of illusion] has become real- ity to him - the Mummy wakes up first, hut cannot wake others For me, however, things have grown hrlghter, and I have written with the feeling that rhcsc are my "Last Sonatas.

A few weeks later he wrote to Schering that he 11 had begun a major Chamber Play with "Toten-lnsei? For ten years I have been preparing myself for death and have lived, as it were, "on the other side.

Not until June did they settle for the locality at Norra Banrorger. The theatre opened with The Pelican on 26 No- vember In the three years that Srrindberg was attached to the Intimate Theatre, he provided Falck and the actors with a stream of directorial information 1tl the form of notes and letters.

He even published a Memorandum to the Memhers of the intimate Theatre, in which he described what he meant by a chamber play: in drama we seek the strong, highly significant motif, but with limitations.

We try to avoid in the treatment all frivolity, all calculated effects, places for applause, star roles, solo numbers. No predetermined form is to limit the author, because the motif deter- mines the form. Although the first edition of The Ghost Sonata carries the date , the play was not available in bookshops until 23 January SV , two days after the opemng at the Intimate Theatre, Less than a month after the play was completed, Srrindberg wrote to Schering: Now!

When Strindberg wrote The Ghost Sonata he had been divorced from his third wife, the actress Harrier Bosse, for dose to two and a half years.

They stayed in touch, however, until she remarried in j On 11 July Strindberg moved into a newly builr apartment block, Drottninggaran 85, in another, more cen- rra! Here, what he called the Blue Tower, now accom- modating the Stnndberg Museum, he was to stay until his death on 14 May r The Student, Martin Lamm declares with his usual inclination to identify the protagonists of the plays with the author, "is Sn-indbcrg himself," and Act I creates a mood rypical of Oseerrnalm.

The palms surrounding the marble statue resemble the "laurel grove" that he had arranged there. In a room next to the library, there was a Buddha on the manrlepiece. The fic- tional rcomments: "Never did I see [-] the tiredness of life so condensed as in this room.

Even the Milkmaid has a counterpart lJ1 reality. In an open letter, "Mrs Therese" relates that when she was twelve, she was employed as a milkmaid and that she delivered milk to Strindberg for quite some time. If we take IIltO account that Strindberg at this time suffered from pson- asis," it is understandable that, like the Young Lady, he experienced the household duties as repulsive.

In the section entitled"A whole life in an hour" - a fitting title for The Ghost Sonata - he relates in A Blue Book I how he, during a morning walk in the city, visits various places connected with his own past.

It was like an agony or moment of death, when all of life passes bv. The con- nection between youth the Student and old age Hummel is latent in the piece, which indicates that Stnndberg could identify himself with both charac- ters. In the early years of the century, Strindberg gathered material for a drama dealing with Asmodeus, 14 Strirldberg TheGhos!..

To divert his benefactor, Asmodee lifts the roofs off the houses of Madrid and shows the student the perversity passing within. The student concludes: human beings are not what they seem to be. It is therefore not surprising to find correspondences between plays like Hamlet and Macbeth, each granted a separate essay, on the one hand and The Ghost Sonata on the other. Hamlet IS the awakened youngster, who discovers [hat the world is out of joint and feels called upon to set it nght, and hel;oll1es desperate when he puts his shoulder to the stone and finds it immovable.

When we first see him he appears full of idealistic innocence. As the play progresses he grows desperate at his own ability to change the world. The dramaturgic func- tion of the visions is the same as that of the ghosts in Hamlet and Macbeth: they bear witness to secret crimes. In Macbeth too we may talk about a ghost supper and there too it is a ghost con- jured up by a sick conscience: only Mncbcth sees it.

As already indicated, The Ghost Sonata deals, among other things, with the relationship between an old man, Hummel, and a young man, the student Arkenholz. So ctwas hab ich nie gesehn. By heaven, this child is beautiful!

Never have I seen anything like it. And blessed he whose good fate it is To bring her home as ,1 bridegroom! Both women are connected with flowers - as is aphelia - and their windows are filled with flower pots. The flower-woman connection is explicitly stated in both plays. A voice from above tells us that Gretchen, despite her sins, "is saved. This is a fragment, adapted by Stnndberg, from the Old Icelandic poem Sdlarlj68, dating back to the J ath or r jrh century. This visionary poem, though metrically and to some extent mythologically related to the poems of the Elder Edda.

One of them carries the title "The Sleepmg City. This he does not learn until he visits hi, own dwelling and secs himself. The ioorld of folly. The ghost supper. Half blind: about to be operated. In a third outline, entitled "Chamber play," the collapse of a house is indi- cated: A Street corner; and anOS5 it a hig house.

A man, standing at the street corner, is look- ing upwards at the house, where people arc sitting reading newspapers. I-I A servant comes out of the house and asks the man to leave, gives him money; bur he does not want to leave. Clearly, Strindberg has striven to re- place Christianity with syncretism. Sunday morning. A half drunk night-watcher discovers rhnr ir is Sunday; ash for a drink - from the girl; his burst eye and rhar of the horse.

I-I The girl removes the srains from his coat. But the Milkmaid still appears very real. This IS true also of an outline consisting of one long acting direction, end At the fountain two little milkmaids 11l summer dress. They have hung their white berets Oil the fountain. Aria pulls up her stockings and adjusts her suspenders; Anna arranges her hair, re-plaits her plait whik mirroring herself in the fountain.

Although the play III all three editions [s entitled Spok-sonaten, the hyphen is usually dropped m comments on the play, even by Strindberg himself SV Both editors assume that Strindberg read and made some corrections the proofs.

A comparison be- tween the original manuscnpr, now In the Strindherg Archive of the Royal Li- brary In Stockholm, the first edition and ss 45 reveals a number of differences, mostly concernmg punctuation and spelling.

In a one-act play we expect the three unities to be adhered to and the play to be presented without any Intermission. Within the three acts we can distinguish forty-nine configurations. As appears from the configuration chart in Appendix I, Strindberg has not nl- ways indicated the presence of the characters clearly. As an alternative to what IS suggested there, the Student may be thought to remam on the stage also during conf. More awkward but formally possible is it to have Bengtsson remain during this con- figuration.

The question of whether or not the Student should be visible when Toten-Insel is reproduced depends on whether we regard the final VISIon as an expression of hIS subjective experience.

This alternative was, arguably, so obvious to Strindberg that he forgot to make it explicit. The Caretaker, for example, is mentioned m the list of dramatis personae although he does not ,lppear in the play, whereas, on the other hand, the Cook, the Maid and the Beggars appear in the play but not in the lisr of characters. Why does he not let her and the Posh Man take part 1Il the homage paid to the Stu- dent in conf.

Has he forgotten to indicate an exit on their part after conf. Or do they continue their conversation III whispers while the rest hail the Student? We may also wonder whether the guests at the ghost supper remain on the stage when the Student recites "The Song of the Sun" at the end of Act If conf. Srrindberg does not clarify these matters and it is evident that the chart ltl these cases mirrors my own choices.

It is also notewor- thy that the number of characters diminishes with each act. The gradual reduction harmonizes with the shrinking space indi- cated in the series street-round room-hyacinth room. Of great mterest is the frequent use of mute configurations and characters. No less than ten of the forty-nine configurations depend on pantorrurne.

In Act I seven of the characters plus the Beggars are mute, while two only have a few lines to speak. In fact, there are only three proper speaking parts: the Old Man, the Student and johansson.

In Act 1I five of the characters are mute, or nearly so, while five have speaking parts. In Act III there are three speaking parts against three mute ones.


The Ghost Sonata - Strindberg Study

Ill, No. IT, july-Sep. Dramaten , Stockholm: Prisma, The illustrations have been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Swedish Institute in Stockholm. Prologue An Important event in theatre history occurred III late autumn when the young actor and theatre manager August Falck met the elderly writer August Strindberg.


Ghost Sonata

Although Strindberg wrote some seventy dramatic pieces, he is best known outside his native Sweden for a small number of plays that represent the range of his achievement. The pre-Inferno plays are naturalistic in form and are insistently concerned with sexual and class struggles bringing to the philosophy of naturalism a psychological realism that validates his characters as among the most excitingly credible in modern drama. These plays are important especially for the ways in which they extend the boundaries of dramatic form, introducing expressionism and Symbolism into the mainstream of world drama. The resulting complexity of character allowed Strindberg to approach with renewed intensity the two conflicts that for him both personally and artistically were never resolved. In that play, as in a number of others that followed, Strindberg dramatizes a major concern of his life and work: the eternal power struggle between men and women.


The Ghost Sonata

To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. The drama, one of four chamber plays written by the author in , is a phantasmagoric coda to a death-obsessed career. The setting for the C. The facade of the ominous house is in the background. As the evening begins, a milkmaid moves a cup toward the surface of a mirror on the ground. Like so much else in the evening, the milkmaid is an apparition.




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