ALS in Swedish, one page, 4.5 x 5, May 22, 1899. Untranslated letter to writer and art critic Georg Brochner mentioning his play To Damascus; and Strindberg’s handwritten responses in Swedish to 29 interview questions sent by Brochner, one page, 8.75 x 14.5. A selection of the questions and answers include the following (translated): when asked about his main character trait, Strindberg replies with: “this strange mixture of profound melancholy and abominable levity.” He writes that the trait he admires most in men is “the lack of infamy,” and in women “mothering”; names his favorite activity as “writing dramas”; and hopes “to be a playwright always listed.” Asked what books mean the most to him, Strindberg replies: the Bible, Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestica, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Dickens’s Little Dorrit, and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. He names his favorite paintings, musical pieces, foods (“beer and fish dishes”), and personal heroes, including Dickens, Henry IV of France, and Margaret of Provence. Also includes the original questionnaire sent to Strindberg, and a period manuscript English translation of his responses. Intersecting folds and some mirroring to ink of the interview sheet, and a crease to one corner of the letter, which is affixed to the reverse of the original questionnaire.
Spending most of the 1890s abroad, devoted to studies of the occult and various scientific experiments, Strindberg suffered a series of psychotic attacks (his ‘Inferno crisis’) that led to a two-year hospitalization and his eventual return to Sweden at the end of the century. Always a prolific writer, he returned to drama for the first time in years, publishing the first two parts of his trilogy To Damascus (also known as The Road to Damascus) in 1898. The ‘dream-play,’ often referred to as his most complex and greatest play, presented a deep spiritual pilgrimage, and premiered in November of 1900 with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Replying to Danish art critic and collector Georg Frederik Brochner, writer for The Studio and The International Studio, with a brief note about To Damascus and the extraordinary list of answers to questions about his personal preferences, opinions, admirations, etc., this pairing offers a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most complex dramatists of all time. One of only a handful of Strindbergs we have offered. RR Auction COA.