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L'écriture biblique de Strindberg: Étude textuelle des citations bibliques dans Inferno, Légendes et Jacob lutte
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of French, Italian and Classical Languages.
2005 (French)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Inferno constitutes a turning point in Strindberg's literary production in that scriptural quotations appear more frequently and a new style emerges. This thesis presents the characteristics of the scriptural quotations appearing in Inferno (1897) and Jacob Wrestles (a fragment following Légendes, written in French and in Swedish in 1898). Comparative, discourse, textual and intertextual approaches are used to define the place and role of scriptural quotations in this literary corpus.

From a historical point of view, both novels are part of the religious history of late 19th century France, where religion played a more important role than during the scientific, rationalist era characterizing the preceding decades. Strindberg adopts a new style corresponding to the spirit of his time. The art of "quoting the Bible at random" is a rhapsodic style, which appears mainly in Strindberg’s correspondence, in his Occult Diary (writings contemporary with Inferno) and in the work of some French 19th century writers. This style originates, above all, in the occult tradition, but it is also a means of imitating the Bible and identifying with a prophetic figure.

The research discussed in this dissertation has made it possible to determine, for the first time, what Bible translations are used in the two novels by Strindberg (translations by Ostervald and Martin / Roques). Five different types of rewritings of quotations were found: omissions, cutting of verses, substitutions, typographical changes and inversions. These variations were aimed at harmonising the Biblical text and the Strindbergian text, while removing contextual and theological elements that bothered the writer. The discourse analysis has concentrated on the quotations viewed as reported speech, distinguishing different ways of introducing Biblical verses in the novel. It was found that the narrator's subjectivity is present in the comments leading up to the quotations. The polyphonic character of some quotations has stressed the importance of identification play between the narrator and certain quotations characters such as Christ, Job and the psalmist.

The intertextual analysis has revealed a large number of similarities in the scriptural quotations in the literary production of Strindberg, Swedenborg and French 19th century literature. It is shown that Inferno contains various quotations that appear in Occult Diary and in other writers’ works, such as those of Swedenborg, Péladan, Zola, Huysmans and Chateaubriand. Jacob Wrestles, on the other hand, does not include as many intertextual elements but instead reassembles many scriptural quotations that were underlined in the Bible translation used for this novel: La Sainte Bible, Ostervald's translation from 1890, which can be found in Blå Tornet (The Strindberg Museum in Stockholm). Strindberg is consequently recycling Biblical material when he writes Inferno, while resorting to the French Bible of Ostervald from 1890 to write Jacob Wrestles.

The quotations strewn in Inferno constitute a crescendo and reveal the narrator’s unsuccessful attempt at conversion, at the same time forming the structure of a complaint psalm in which the narrator cries out his suffering and awaits liberation. In the French text of Jacob Wrestles, the writer offers a package of scriptural quotations in order to identify the narrator as "a religious man", imploring God's mercy like Moses and Job. In the Swedish text of Jacob Wrestles, a new perspective is introduced as a result of the change in language, the change from Old to New Testament, the new spiritual disposition of the narrator and the sudden intrusion of the writer in the narrator’s space. The role of scriptural quotations in the entire fragment of Jacob Wrestles is a true linguistic, thematic and theological revolution, which accounts for the narrator's extraordinary religious evolution. The misery of the narrator in Inferno allows a ray of Christian hope, which will persist in Strindbergs’s literary production post-Inferno.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för franska, italienska och klassiska språk , 2005. , 236 p.
Forskningsrapporter / Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för franska och italienska: cahiers de la recherche, ISSN 1654-1294 ; 26
Keyword [fr]
Keywords: Strindberg, Inferno, Légendes, Jacob Wrestles, scriptural quotation, Bible and literature, David Martin's and Ostervald's Protestant Bibles, rewriting, reported speech, proverbs, polyphony, intertextuality, textual and comparative studies, late 19th century France.
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-528ISBN: 91-85059-11-0OAI: diva2:195061
Public defence
2005-06-03, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2005-05-10 Created: 2005-05-10Bibliographically approved

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