August Strindberg.

Plays by August Strindberg, Second series online

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Produced by Nicole Apostola







Introduction to "There Are Crimes and Crimes"

Introduction to "Miss Julia"
Author's Preface

Introduction to "The Stronger"

Introduction to "Creditors"

Introduction to "Pariah"


Strindberg was fifty years old when he wrote "There Are Crimes and
Crimes." In the same year, 1899, he produced three of his finest
historical dramas: "The Saga of the Folkungs," "Gustavus Vasa,"
and "Eric XIV." Just before, he had finished "Advent," which he
described as "A Mystery," and which was published together with
"There Are Crimes and Crimes" under the common title of "In a
Higher Court." Back of these dramas lay his strange confessional
works, "Inferno" and "Legends," and the first two parts of his
autobiographical dream-play, "Toward Damascus" - all of which were
finished between May, 1897, and some time in the latter part of
1898. And back of these again lay that period of mental crisis,
when, at Paris, in 1895 and 1896, he strove to make gold by the
transmutation of baser metals, while at the same time his spirit
was travelling through all the seven hells in its search for the
heaven promised by the great mystics of the past.

"There Are Crimes and Crimes" may, in fact, be regarded as his
first definite step beyond that crisis, of which the preceding
works were at once the record and closing chord. When, in 1909, he
issued "The Author," being a long withheld fourth part of his
first autobiographical series, "The Bondwoman's Son," he prefixed
to it an analytical summary of the entire body of his work.
Opposite the works from 1897-8 appears in this summary the
following passage: "The great crisis at the age of fifty;
revolutions in the life of the soul, desert wanderings,
Swedenborgian Heavens and Hells." But concerning "There Are Crimes
and Crimes" and the three historical dramas from the same year he
writes triumphantly: "Light after darkness; new productivity, with
recovered Faith, Hope and Love - and with full, rock-firm

In its German version the play is named "Rausch," or
"Intoxication," which indicates the part played by the champagne
in the plunge of _Maurice_ from the pinnacles of success to the
depths of misfortune. Strindberg has more and more come to see
that a moderation verging closely on asceticism is wise for most
men and essential to the man of genius who wants to fulfil his
divine mission. And he does not scorn to press home even this
comparatively humble lesson with the naive directness and fiery
zeal which form such conspicuous features of all his work.

But in the title which bound it to "Advent" at their joint
publication we have a better clue to what the author himself
undoubtedly regards as the most important element of his work - its
religious tendency. The "higher court," in which are tried the
crimes of _Maurice_, _Adolphe_, and _Henriette_, is, of course,
the highest one that man can imagine. And the crimes of which they
have all become guilty are those which, as _Adolphe_ remarks, "are
not mentioned in the criminal code" - in a word, crimes against the
spirit, against the impalpable power that moves us, against God.
The play, seen in this light, pictures a deep-reaching spiritual
change, leading us step by step from the soul adrift on the waters
of life to the state where it is definitely oriented and impelled.

There are two distinct currents discernible in this dramatic
revelation of progress from spiritual chaos to spiritual order -
for to order the play must be said to lead, and progress is
implied in its onward movement, if there be anything at all in our
growing modern conviction that _any_ vital faith is better than none
at all. One of the currents in question refers to the means rather
than the end, to the road rather than the goal. It brings us back
to those uncanny soul-adventures by which Strindberg himself won
his way to the "full, rock-firm Certitude" of which the play in
its entirety is the first tangible expression. The elements
entering into this current are not only mystical, but occult. They
are derived in part from Swedenborg, and in part from that
picturesque French dreamer who signs himself "Sar Péladan"; but
mostly they have sprung out of Strindberg's own experiences in
moments of abnormal tension.

What happened, or seemed to happen, to himself at Paris in 1895,
and what he later described with such bewildering exactitude in
his "Inferno" and "Legends," all this is here presented in
dramatic form, but a little toned down, both to suit the needs of
the stage and the calmer mood of the author. Coincidence is law.
It is the finger-point of Providence, the signal to man that he
must beware. Mystery is the gospel: the secret knitting of man to
man, of fact to fact, deep beneath the surface of visible and
audible existence. Few writers could take us into such a realm of
probable impossibilities and possible improbabilities without
losing all claim to serious consideration. If Strindberg has thus
ventured to our gain and no loss of his own, his success can be
explained only by the presence in the play of that second,
parallel current of thought and feeling.

This deeper current is as simple as the one nearer the surface is
fantastic. It is the manifestation of that "rock-firm Certitude"
to which I have already referred. And nothing will bring us nearer
to it than Strindberg's own confession of faith, given in his
"Speeches to the Swedish Nation" two years ago. In that pamphlet
there is a chapter headed "Religion," in which occurs this
passage: "Since 1896 I have been calling myself a Christian. I am
not a Catholic, and have never been, but during a stay of seven
years in Catholic countries and among Catholic relatives, I
discovered that the difference between Catholic and Protestant
tenets is either none at all, or else wholly superficial, and that
the division which once occurred was merely political or else
concerned with theological problems not fundamentally germane to
the religion itself. A registered Protestant I am and will remain,
but I can hardly be called orthodox or evangelistic, but come
nearest to being a Swedenborgian. I use my Bible Christianity
internally and privately to tame my somewhat decivilized nature -
decivilised by that veterinary philosophy and animal science
(Darwinism) in which, as student at the university, I was reared.
And I assure my fellow-beings that they have no right to complain
because, according to my ability, I practise the Christian
teachings. For only through religion, or the hope of something
better, and the recognition of the innermost meaning of life as
that of an ordeal, a school, or perhaps a penitentiary, will it be
possible to bear the burden of life with sufficient resignation."

Here, as elsewhere, it is made patent that Strindberg's
religiosity always, on closer analysis, reduces itself to
morality. At bottom he is first and last, and has always been, a
moralist - a man passionately craving to know what is RIGHT and to
do it. During the middle, naturalistic period of his creative
career, this fundamental tendency was in part obscured, and he
engaged in the game of intellectual curiosity known as "truth for
truth's own sake." One of the chief marks of his final and
mystical period is his greater courage to "be himself" in this
respect - and this means necessarily a return, or an advance, to a
position which the late William James undoubtedly would have
acknowledged as "pragmatic." To combat the assertion of
over-developed individualism that we are ends in ourselves,
that we have certain inalienable personal "rights" to pleasure
and happiness merely because we happen to appear here in human
shape, this is one of Strindberg's most ardent aims in all his
later works.

As to the higher and more inclusive object to which our lives must
be held subservient, he is not dogmatic. It may be another life.
He calls it God. And the code of service he finds in the tenets of
all the Christian churches, but principally in the Commandments.
The plain and primitive virtues, the faith that implies little
more than square dealing between man and man - these figure
foremost in Strindberg's ideals. In an age of supreme self-seeking
like ours, such an outlook would seem to have small chance of
popularity, but that it embodies just what the time most needs is,
perhaps, made evident by the reception which the public almost
invariably grants "There Are Crimes and Crimes" when it is staged.

With all its apparent disregard of what is commonly called
realism, and with its occasional, but quite unblushing, use of
methods generally held superseded - such as the casual introduction
of characters at whatever moment they happen to be needed on the
stage - it has, from the start, been among the most frequently
played and most enthusiastically received of Strindberg's later
dramas. At Stockholm it was first taken up by the Royal Dramatic
Theatre, and was later seen on the tiny stage of the Intimate
Theatre, then devoted exclusively to Strindberg's works. It was
one of the earliest plays staged by Reinhardt while he was still
experimenting with his Little Theatre at Berlin, and it has also
been given in numerous German cities, as well as in Vienna.

Concerning my own version of the play I wish to add a word of
explanation. Strindberg has laid the scene in Paris. Not only the
scenery, but the people and the circumstances are French. Yet he
has made no attempt whatever to make the dialogue reflect French
manners of speaking or ways of thinking. As he has given it to us,
the play is French only in its most superficial aspect, in its
setting - and this setting he has chosen simply because he needed a
certain machinery offered him by the Catholic, but not by the
Protestant, churches. The rest of the play is purely human in its
note and wholly universal in its spirit. For this reason I have
retained the French names and titles, but have otherwise striven
to bring everything as close as possible to our own modes of
expression. Should apparent incongruities result from this manner
of treatment, I think they will disappear if only the reader will
try to remember that the characters of the play move in an
existence cunningly woven by the author out of scraps of ephemeral
reality in order that he may show us the mirage of a more enduring



MAURICE, a playwright
JEANNE, his mistress
MARION, their daughter, five years old
ADOLPHE, a painter
HENRIETTE, his mistress
EMILE, a workman, brother of Jeanne





(All the scenes are laid in Paris)



(The upper avenue of cypresses in the Montparnasse Cemetery at
Paris. The background shows mortuary chapels, stone crosses on
which are inscribed "O Crux! Ave Spes Unica!" and the ruins of a
wind-mill covered with ivy.)

(A well-dressed woman in widow's weeds is kneeling and muttering
prayers in front of a grave decorated with flowers.)

(JEANNE is walking back and forth as if expecting somebody.)

(MARION is playing with some withered flowers picked from a
rubbish heap on the ground.)

(The ABBÉ is reading his breviary while walking along the further
end of the avenue.)

WATCHMAN. [Enters and goes up to JEANNE] Look here, this is no

JEANNE. [Submissively] I am only waiting for somebody who'll soon
be here -

WATCHMAN. All right, but you're not allowed to pick any flowers.

JEANNE. [To MARION] Drop the flowers, dear.

ABBÉ. [Comes forward and is saluted by the WATCHMAN] Can't the
child play with the flowers that have been thrown away?

WATCHMAN. The regulations don't permit anybody to touch even the
flowers that have been thrown away, because it's believed they may
spread infection - which I don't know if it's true.

ABBÉ. [To MARION] In that case we have to obey, of course. What's
your name, my little girl?

MARION. My name is Marion.

ABBÉ. And who is your father?

(MARION begins to bite one of her fingers and does not answer.)

ABBÉ. Pardon my question, madame. I had no intention - I was just
talking to keep the little one quiet.

(The WATCHMAN has gone out.)

JEANNE. I understood it, Reverend Father, and I wish you would say
something to quiet me also. I feel very much disturbed after
having waited here two hours.

ABBÉ. Two hours - for him! How these human beings torture each
other! O Crux! Ave spes unica!

JEANNE. What do they mean, those words you read all around here?

ABBÉ. They mean: O cross, our only hope!

JEANNE. Is it the only one?

ABBÉ. The only certain one.

JEANNE. I shall soon believe that you are right, Father.

ABBÉ. May I ask why?

JEANNE. You have already guessed it. When he lets the woman and
the child wait two hours in a cemetery, then the end is not far

ABBÉ. And when he has left you, what then?

JEANNE. Then we have to go into the river.

ABBÉ. Oh, no, no!

JEANNE. Yes, yes!

MARION. Mamma, I want to go home, for I am hungry.

JEANNE. Just a little longer, dear, and we'll go home.

ABBÉ. Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil.

JEANNE. What is that woman doing at the grave over there?

ABBÉ. She seems to be talking to the dead.

JEANNE. But you cannot do that?

ABBÉ. She seems to know how.

JEANNE. This would mean that the end of life is not the end of our

ABBÉ. And you don't know it?

JEANNE. Where can I find out?

ABBÉ. Hm! The next time you feel as if you wanted to learn about
this well-known matter, you can look me up in Our Lady's Chapel at
the Church of St. Germain - Here comes the one you are waiting for,
I guess.

JEANNE. [Embarrassed] No, he is not the one, but I know him.

ABBÉ. [To MARION] Good-bye, little Marion! May God take care of
you! [Kisses the child and goes out] At St. Germain des Prés.

EMILE. [Enters] Good morning, sister. What are you doing here?

JEANNE. I am waiting for Maurice.

EMILE. Then I guess you'll have a lot of waiting to do, for I saw
him on the boulevard an hour ago, taking breakfast with some
friends. [Kissing the child] Good morning, Marion.

JEANNE. Ladies also?

EMILE. Of course. But that doesn't mean anything. He writes plays,
and his latest one has its first performance tonight. I suppose he
had with him some of the actresses.

JEANNE. Did he recognise you?

EMILE. No, he doesn't know who I am, and it is just as well. I
know my place as a workman, and I don't care for any condescension
from those that are above me.

JEANNE. But if he leaves us without anything to live on?

EMILE. Well, you see, when it gets that far, then I suppose I
shall have to introduce myself. But you don't expect anything of
the kind, do you - seeing that he is fond of you and very much
attached to the child?

JEANNE. I don't know, but I have a feeling that something dreadful
is in store for me.

EMILE. Has he promised to marry you?

JEANNE. No, not promised exactly, but he has held out hopes.

EMILE. Hopes, yes! Do you remember my words at the start: don't
hope for anything, for those above us don't marry downward.

JEANNE. But such things have happened.

EMILE. Yes, they have happened. But, would you feel at home in his
world? I can't believe it, for you wouldn't even understand what
they were talking of. Now and then I take my meals where he is
eating - out in the kitchen is my place, of course - and I don't
make out a word of what they say.

JEANNE. So you take your meals at that place?

EMILE. Yes, in the kitchen.

JEANNE. And think of it, he has never asked me to come with him.

EMILE. Well, that's rather to his credit, and it shows he has some
respect for the mother of his child. The women over there are a
queer lot.

JEANNE. Is that so?

EMILE. But Maurice never pays any attention to the women. There is
something _square_ about that fellow.

JEANNE. That's what I feel about him, too, but as soon as there is
a woman in it, a man isn't himself any longer.

EMILE. [Smiling] You don't tell me! But listen: are you hard up
for money?

JEANNE. No, nothing of that kind.

EMILE. Well, then the worst hasn't come yet - Look! Over there!
There he comes. And I'll leave you. Good-bye, little girl.

JEANNE. Is he coming? Yes, that's him.

EMILE. Don't make him mad now - with your jealousy, Jeanne! [Goes

JEANNE. No, I won't.

(MAURICE enters.)

MARION. [Runs up to him and is lifted up into his arms] Papa,

MAURICE. My little girl! [Greets JEANNE] Can you forgive me,
Jeanne, that I have kept you waiting so long?

JEANNE. Of course I can.

MAURICE. But say it in such a way that I can hear that you are
forgiving me.

JEANNE. Come here and let me whisper it to you.

(MAURICE goes up close to her.)

(JEANNE kisses him on the cheek.)

MAURICE. I didn't hear.

(JEANNE kisses him on the mouth.)

MAURICE. Now I heard! Well - you know, I suppose that this is the
day that will settle my fate? My play is on for tonight, and there
is every chance that it will succeed - or fail.

JEANNE. I'll make sure of success by praying for you.

MAURICE. Thank you. If it doesn't help, it can at least do no
harm - Look over there, down there in the valley, where the haze is
thickest: there lies Paris. Today Paris doesn't know who Maurice
is, but it is going to know within twenty-four hours. The haze,
which has kept me obscured for thirty years, will vanish before my
breath, and I shall become visible, I shall assume definite shape
and begin to be somebody. My enemies - which means all who would
like to do what I have done - will be writhing in pains that shall
be my pleasures, for they will be suffering all that I have

JEANNE. Don't talk that way, don't!

MAURICE. But that's the way it is.

JEANNE. Yes, but don't speak of it - And then?

MAURICE. Then we are on firm ground, and then you and Marion will
bear the name I have made famous.

JEANNE. You love me then?

MAURICE. I love both of you, equally much, or perhaps Marion a
little more.

JEANNE. I am glad of it, for you can grow tired of me, but not of

MAURICE. Have you no confidence in my feelings toward you?

JEANNE. I don't know, but I am afraid of something, afraid of
something terrible -

MAURICE. You are tired out and depressed by your long wait, which
once more I ask you to forgive. What have you to be afraid of?

JEANNE. The unexpected: that which you may foresee without having
any particular reason to do so.

MAURICE. But I foresee only success, and I have particular reasons
for doing so: the keen instincts of the management and their
knowledge of the public, not to speak of their personal
acquaintance with the critics. So now you must be in good spirits -

JEANNE. I can't, I can't! Do you know, there was an Abbé here a
while ago, who talked so beautifully to us. My faith - which you
haven't destroyed, but just covered up, as when you put chalk on a
window to clean it - I couldn't lay hold on it for that reason, but
this old man just passed his hand over the chalk, and the light
came through, and it was possible again to see that the people
within were at home - To-night I will pray for you at St. Germain.

MAURICE. Now I am getting scared.

JEANNE. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

MAURICE. God? What is that? Who is he?

JEANNE. It was he who gave joy to your youth and strength to your
manhood. And it is he who will carry us through the terrors that
lie ahead of us.

MAURICE. What is lying ahead of us? What do you know? Where have
you learned of this? This thing that I don't know?

JEANNE. I can't tell. I have dreamt nothing, seen nothing, heard
nothing. But during these two dreadful hours I have experienced
such an infinity of pain that I am ready for the worst.

MARION. Now I want to go home, mamma, for I am hungry.

MAURICE. Yes, you'll go home now, my little darling. [Takes her
into his arms.]

MARION. [Shrinking] Oh, you hurt me, papa!

JEANNE. Yes, we must get home for dinner. Good-bye then, Maurice.
And good luck to you!

MAURICE. [To MARION] How did I hurt you? Doesn't my little girl
know that I always want to be nice to her?

MARION. If you are nice, you'll come home with us.

MAURICE. [To JEANNE] When I hear the child talk like that, you
know, I feel as if I ought to do what she says. But then reason
and duty protest - Good-bye, my dear little girl! [He kisses the
child, who puts her arms around his neck.]

JEANNE. When do we meet again?

MAURICE. We'll meet tomorrow, dear. And then we'll never part

JEANNE. [Embraces him] Never, never to part again! [She makes the
sign of the cross on his forehead] May God protect you!

MAURICE. [Moved against his own will] My dear, beloved Jeanne!

(JEANNE and MARION go toward the right; MAURICE toward the left.
Both turn around simultaneously and throw kisses at each other.)

MAURICE. [Comes back] Jeanne, I am ashamed of myself. I am always
forgetting you, and you are the last one to remind me of it. Here
are the tickets for tonight.

JEANNE. Thank you, dear, but - you have to take up your post of
duty alone, and so I have to take up mine - with Marion.

MAURICE. Your wisdom is as great as the goodness of your heart.
Yes, I am sure no other woman would have sacrificed a pleasure to
serve her husband - I must have my hands free tonight, and there is
no place for women and children on the battle-field - and this you

JEANNE. Don't think too highly of a poor woman like myself, and
then you'll have no illusions to lose. And now you'll see that I
can be as forgetful as you - I have bought you a tie and a pair of
gloves which I thought you might wear for my sake on your day of

MAURICE. [Kissing her hand] Thank you, dear.

JEANNE. And then, Maurice, don't forget to have your hair fixed,
as you do all the time. I want you to be good-looking, so that
others will like you too.

MAURICE. There is no jealousy in _you_!

JEANNE. Don't mention that word, for evil thoughts spring from it.

MAURICE. Just now I feel as if I could give up this evening's
victory - for I am going to win -

JEANNE. Hush, hush!

MAURICE. And go home with you instead.

JEANNE. But you mustn't do that! Go now: your destiny is waiting
for you.

MAURICE. Good-bye then! And may that happen which must happen!
[Goes out.]

JEANNE. [Alone with MARION] O Crux! Ave spes unica!



(The Crêmerie. On the right stands a buffet, on which are placed
an aquarium with goldfish and dishes containing vegetables, fruit,
preserves, etc. In the background is a door leading to the
kitchen, where workmen are taking their meals. At the other end of
the kitchen can be seen a door leading out to a garden. On the
left, in the background, stands a counter on a raised platform,
and back of it are shelves containing all sorts of bottles. On the
right, a long table with a marble top is placed along the wall,
and another table is placed parallel to the first further out on
the floor. Straw-bottomed chairs stand around the tables. The
walls are covered with oil-paintings.)

(MME. CATHERINE is sitting at the counter.)

(MAURICE stands leaning against it. He has his hat on and is
smoking a cigarette.)

MME. CATHERINE. So it's tonight the great event comes off,
Monsieur Maurice?

MAURICE. Yes, tonight.

MME. CATHERINE. Do you feel upset?

MAURICE. Cool as a cucumber.

MME. CATHERINE. Well, I wish you luck anyhow, and you have
deserved it, Monsieur Maurice, after having had to fight against
such difficulties as yours.

MAURICE. Thank you, Madame Catherine. You have been very kind to
me, and without your help I should probably have been down and out
by this time.

MME. CATHERINE. Don't let us talk of that now. I help along where
I see hard work and the right kind of will, but I don't want to be
exploited - Can we trust you to come back here after the play and

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