Some 30 stories (""Getting Married I"" first published in 1884 when the Swedish playwright was 35) dealing with sex and...

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GETTING MARRIED

Some 30 stories (""Getting Married I"" first published in 1884 when the Swedish playwright was 35) dealing with sex and marriage -- a few brilliantly complete; others are brief distillations of life's stage business or shreds of dialogue. These are essentially tales of entrapment, resigned accommodation and/or defeat, within the arid space ringed about with the pasteboard pilasters of society's ideal of marriage -- based on status, pietistic constrictions and the ""price of grain."" In the first story the ""ten years of martyrdom"" between puberty and the possibility of marriage, a young man subjected to sexual restrictions is physically and spiritually drained to an early death. Marriage as it could be with ""the pulls of (husband and wife) evenly matched"" is only too rare. In the most moving story, a middle-aged pair with children are forced to accept the demise of a spring love into the calm ""Autumn"" of home and family determined by roles of mother and breadwinner. And yet both, with a somber playfulness, think wistfully of a ""second spring."" It is the natural groundswell of sexual need which causes turmoil in an artificial society and in one story a young husband, overcome with the pleasures of the moment celebrates their passion with rare and expensive viands and after the inevitable bankruptcy follows, Strindberg's wyly comments: ""To think that life can't give ptarmigan and strawberries to all the children of men. How cruel, oh how cruel!"" Like Sartre in No Exit, Strindberg finds oppressive dependency can wither any incidental bloom of a capriciously indifferent nature; ""Marriage is cannibalism. If I don't eat you, you'll eat me."" Indispensable to any Strindberg study and in his rasping, bleak insistence on pinpointing connections gone awry between men and women Strindberg is curiously contemporary. Edited and introduced by Miss Sandbach.

Pub Date: March 1, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1973