James, Eugene Nelson, 1919-2013||Moseley, Virginia Douglas, 1917-
M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of English
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 1862-1949||Strindberg, August, 1849-1912
August Strindberg made several statements in referring to his impression of Maurice Maeterlinck's works which might help to explain certain features in some of Strindberg's later plays. In letters to Harriot Bosse and to Emil Schering, Strindberg made reference to Maeterlinck's works and their influence on his post-Inferno dramas after 1901. Strindberg's essay "Stylization" records his admiration for Maetorlinck's philosophy as expressed in the Dramas for Marionettes. Translators, biographers, and critics acknowledge the possibility of a Macterlinekean influence on Strindberg, but the idea has not been investigated thoroughly. The most recent study of the problem appears in Modern Drama in an article by Haskell Block, "Strindberg and the Symbolist Drama," in which the author states that the problem of the relationship of Strindberg and Maeterlinck "is complicated and requires more detailed examination." Such an examination is undertaken in this paper. Maeterlinck's The Treasure of the Humble and the Dramas for Marionettes are analyzed in Chapter II in an attempt to ascertain which specific features of the works impressed Strindberg. On the bases of Strindberg's statements in the primary sources available, this author attempted to see Maeterlinck's works through the eyes of Strindberg. The period of mental anguish in Strindberg's life with he called his Inferno period (1896-1899) predisposed him to a greater sympathy for the spiritual and mystical philosophies of certain men. Swedenborg, who influenced Strindberg during the Inferno years, also influenced Maeterlinck. In the frame of mind which the Inferno and Swedenborg had helped to create, Strindberg wrote works in which he felt he had anticipated Maeterlinck's ideas. Easter is one of these works, and Eleanora, the protagonist, is a person of special sensitivity and understanding, characteristics for which Strindberg praised Maeterlinck and his characters. Chapter III of this study is an analysis of Easter. Chapter IV of this paper contains a survey of the drama which have possible Maeterlinckean touches, which Chapter V is a discussion of the three plays which appear to have the greatest degree of Maeterlinckean influence: Charles XII, The Bridal Crown, and Swanwhite. Strindberg wrote several types of plays after 1901. The numerous historical plays are largely realistic; however, Engelbrekt and The Last of the Knights have touches that are not characteristic of the realistic dramas. Strindberg characterized Engelbrekt as containing an unrealistic final scene which can be called Swedenborgian. But in The Last of the Knights one character has the gift of prophecy and speaks of a shadowy destiny ruling men, an idea possibly Maeterlinckean in origin. The Chamber Plays have certain sensitive characters and a few ideas and devices which could be attributed to the influence of Maeterlinck. The Ghost Sonata and The Burned House evidence supernatural touches and move far from Strindberg's earlier materialist outlook. Certain expressionistic works, A Dream Play, To Damascus, III, and The Great Highway, deal with the author's spiritual [?]. One of the main themes of these plays is the illusionary quality of human life. The characterization of the Prior in To Damascus, III seems to fit the discription of Maeterlinck's sympathetic person, and the Monastery in which the Prior lives is an embodiment of the spiritual society foreseen in The Treasure of the Humble. The emphasis in these works is on the spiritual and psychological. In three dramas written in 1901, The Bridal Crown, Swanwhite, and Charles XII, the Maeterlinckean influence seems to be greatest. Swanwhite contains many parallels to Princess Maleine. However, Strindberg's statement about Maeterlinck's future influence on his works appears to have been exaggerated. Maeterlinck was one of many influences operating on Strindberg to turn him from materialism and realism to anti-materialism and expressionism. Strindberg was too independent and original to be an imitator of another man's art or ideas.
Hamilton, Christine M., "The influence of Maurice Maeterlinck on August Strindberg" (1964). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5926.
vii, 86 pages
Northern Illinois University
Rights Statement 2