“…the incest taboo in Strindberg is so powerful that it takes precedence…”

August Strindberg

August Strindberg

Vernon Young writes in “Strindberg’s ghosts”:

“Theodore Lidz found the provenance of Strindberg’s mania in latent homosexuality. Perhaps I have read Lagercrantz’s explanations unclearly but I am not satisfied by the demonstration. For me, the incest taboo in Strindberg is so powerful that it takes precedence over every other suggestion. That both suppressions can be harbored in the same personality is of course likely and Strindberg’s life-in-art and art-in-life is a tangled web. One thing is certain, whatever the ancestry: that Strindberg had an undying need to inflict and when he was provoked by an insult, real or fancied, to his sexual proclivities his reaction was volcanic and the fury of his language beyond his control to abate. While engaged to Frida Uhl (another liberated and personally ambitious woman whom he unwisely married) he had a brief affair with Dagny Juel, a notorious Norwegian beauty who had been Edvard Munch’s mistress. She rejected Strindberg in three weeks with the rumored explanation that he was too old—and too corpulent! In the ensuing months Strindberg, in a blind rage, described Dagny (whether in letters, tavern talk, or fiction Lagercrantz fails to make clear) as “a whore, a reptile, a rotten cadaver … a vampire, whose embrace killed, and a witch, who had to be burned at the stake.”

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