Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hamsun for Strindberg

To A. Paul

Paris [1895]

Strindberg is very badly off . . . He is living here on a most insecure footing, writing an article from time to time which perhaps some paper prints and perhaps not. He is badly paid--he only got forty francs for his last article on sulphur; his translator kept twenty francs, so only twenty francs was Strindberg's share. He is in debt and has been living on credit the whole time and does not know how long he will be able to remain where he is.
He lacks clothing. Now, in winter, he goes about in a light green summer suit and he is embarrassed. He feels he cannot call on anyone, not even on publishers, in his present state.

I thank you personally for being willing to intervene on his behalf in Berlin. You tell me he has a grudge against you. But I scarcely know anyone against whom he hasn't a grudge. He doesn't like me either, he says my personality is too strong for him. It's hardly possible to have anything to do with him. But I don't mind and I see that you don't either. In spite of everything he is August Strindberg.

. . . We were going to dine together one evening and were looking for a place. We stopped in front of a little restaurant with no particular pretensions where other people gong in were also shabby. But Strindberg said: 'No, it's too well lighted for me here, it's too bright. Let's go somewhere else.' He didn't say it in a complaining tone, he simply stated it as a fact. 'Here it is too bright for me!' And yet this was none other than August Strindberg! I cannot forget the impression it made upon me. Do something for him if you can--

-from The Strange Life of August Strindberg by Elizabeth Sprigge (London: HamishHamilton, 1949) p. 159.

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