Literary Quotations
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AUGUST STRINDBERG QUOTES


The Father (1887)

This house is full of women who all want to have their say about my child. My mother-in-law wants to make a Spiritualist of her. Laura wants her to be an artist; the governess wants her to be a Methodist, old Margret a Baptist, and the servant-girls want her to join the Salvation Army! It won't do to try to make a soul in patches like that.

Heaven knows, things are not as might be wished.

There are some circumstances in a family which through honor and conscience one is forced to conceal from the whole world.

One can make the insane believe anything, just because they are receptive to everything.

When I was young I was strong and, if I may boast, handsome. Once when I was making a trip on a steamer and sitting with a few friends in the saloon, the young stewardess came and flung herself down by me, burst into tears, and told us that her sweetheart was drowned. We sympathized with her, and I ordered some champagne. After the second glass I touched her foot; after the fourth her knee, and before morning I had consoled her.

Nothing annoys me so touch as to see people undecided about anything.

It's risky to take anything on good faith where a woman is concerned.

The child bound us together; but the link became a chain. And how did it happen; how? I have never thought about this, but now memories rise up accusingly, condemningly perhaps. We had been married two years, and had no children; you know why. I fell ill and lay at the point of death. During a conscious interval of the fever I heard voices out in the drawing-room. It was you and the lawyer talking about the fortune that I still possessed. He explained that you could inherit nothing because we had no children, and he asked you if you were expecting to become a mother. I did not hear your reply. I recovered and we had a child. Who is its father?

Unfortunately, I am a man, and there is nothing for me to do but, like a Roman, fold my arms across my breast and hold my breath till I die.

You believe evil about everybody. But you see it's because you haven't the true faith; that's just what it is.

You always had the advantage. You could hypnotize me when I was wide awake, so that I neither saw nor heard, but merely obeyed; you could give me a raw potato and make me imagine it was a peach; you could force me to admire your foolish caprices as though they were strokes of genius. You could have influenced me to crime, yes, even to mean, paltry deeds. Because you lacked intelligence, instead of carrying out my ideas you acted on your own judgment. But when at last I awoke, I realized that my honor had been corrupted and I wanted to blot out the memory by a great deed, an achievement, a discovery, or an honorable suicide. I wanted to go to war, but was not permitted. It was then that I threw myself into science. And now when I was about to reach out my hand to gather in its fruits, you chop off my arm. Now I am dishonored and can live no longer, for a man cannot live without honor.

It's a strange thing that you no sooner speak of God and love than your voice becomes hard and your eyes fill with hate.

You have a fiendish power of getting your own way; but so has anyone who does not scruple about, the way it is accomplished.

The Ghost Sonata (1907)

People who ruin themselves through stupid speculation always blame the one person they couldn't fool for their ruin.

It's amazing how a story can be told in two such different ways.

As you can see, I'm a cripple. Some people say it's my own fault; others blame my parents. Personally, I believe life itself is to blame, waiting in ambush for us, and if you avoid one trap, you walk straight into another.

I take an interest in people's destinies.

My whole life is like a book of fairy tales ... although the tales are different, a single thread joins them together, and the same theme, the leitmotif, returns again and again, like clockwork.

I've made people unhappy, but they've made me unhappy. The one cancels out the other.

In the face of what's hopeless there can only be despair!

No fear has he who has done no ill.

He wants power ... All day long he rides around in his chariot, like the great god Thor ... He looks at houses, tears them down, widens streets, builds over public squares. But he also breaks into houses, crawls through windows, destroys people's lives, kills his enemies, and forgives nothing.

You see, when a house gets old, it gets moldy. And when people sit around tormenting each other for so long, they get crazy.

I prefer silence. Then you can hear thoughts and see into the past. In silence you can't hide anything ... as you can in words.

Miss Julie (1888)

No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car.

Oh, I'd love to see the whole of your sex swimming in a sea of blood just like that. I think I could drink out of your skull You think I loved you because my womb hungered for your seed—Bear your child and take your name!—Come to think of it, what is your name anyway? I've never heard your last name. You probably don't even have one. I'd be Mrs. Doorkeeper or Madame Floorsweeper. You dog with my name on your collar—you lackey with my initials on your buttons!

Necessity knows no rules.

Maybe at bottom there isn't such a great difference between people as we think.

That's the life, you know. Always new faces, new languages. No time to worry or be nervous. No hunting for something to do--there's always work to be done: bells ringing night and day, train whistles blowing, carriages coming and going, and all the while gold rolling into the till! That's the life!

I caught sight of a pink dress and a pair of white stockings. That was you. I crawled under a pile of weeds, under—well, you can imagine what it was like—under thistles that pricked me and wet dirt that stank to high heaven. And all the while I could see you walking among the roses.

I can't deny ... that I'm pleased to find out that what looked so dazzling from below was only tinsel, that the hawk's back was only gray, after all, that the lovely complexion was only powder, that those polished fingernails had black edges, and that a dirty handkerchief is still dirty, even if it smells of perfume!

I'm already asleep. The whole room is like smoke around me ... and you look like an iron stove ... shaped like a man in black, with a tall hat--and your eyes glow like coals when the fire is dying--and your face is a white patch, like ashes.

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