Modernist Occultism. The Case of August Strindberg’s Occult Science.

Henrik Johnsson (Aarhus/Stockholm)

19 novembre 2015, 18h. Salle 4202, le patio. Plan d’accès.

The Swedish playwright and author August Strindberg suffered what has become known as his “Inferno crisis” while living in Paris in the 1890s. During this time he experimented with alchemy, attempting to create gold in his hotel room, and believed himself to be the target of divine retribution. The Inferno crisis eventually resulted in Strindberg becoming a born-again Christian, and he spent the last years of his life arguing against atheism and Darwinism. What is less known is that Strindberg’s religious crisis enabled him to create works of literature which came to have a profound influence on 20th century Modernism. Strindberg’s occult beliefs helped him formulate a new literary style that was later to influence both Surrealism, Expressionism and Existentialism. The presentation explores the importance of occultism to Strindberg’s Modernist prose and drama, thereby posing the question if the roots of Modernism are to be found in the occult.