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Cruel Banquet: The Life and Loves of Frida Strindberg Hardcover – July 15, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st edition (July 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151002908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151002900
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,851,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a thoroughly engrossing biography of Frida Uhl Strindberg (1872-1943), the famous playwright's second wife, whom Strauss portrays as a kind of feminist heroine, a woman of independence and sensuality in an era when these qualities were not admired in women. Frida, then in her early 20s, and August, 20 years her senior, were wed less than two years, but, Strauss, an independent scholar who lives in New York City, argues that this brief and largely painful period in Frida's life would come to epitomize the most basic psychological struggles that drove her in her remaining 40 (unmarried) years. Her marriage to the "enfant terrible" of the theater world flew in the face of Frida's father's wishes; August was cruel to Frida, indulging in verbal abuse, both public and private, and incessant attacks of jealousy. Perhaps most notably, Frida struggled with conflicting impulses. Her father encouraged her to think of herself "as a man," that is, to pursue her ambition to write (she was a journalist), to forge connections with some of the most prominent artists of her period (mostly avant-gardists such as Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis) and to express her opinions strongly. But she was criticized for doing so by those in her worldAand by her husband. Strauss's sympathies clearly lie with Frida, but her sympathy seems to blind her to Frida's flaws, which include her tendency to be stubborn and manipulative. Strauss has done impressive research, requiring considerable mastery of four languages, and she gained access to valuable sources housed by her subject's direct relations. Frida's personal archive, only one of numerous primary materials that Strauss has tracked down, adds richness and authenticity to this portrait of a woman who saw life as a "cruel banquet." (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

At age 20, Frida Uhl (1872-1943) became the second wife of the 43-year-old Swedish playwright August Strindberg. The marriage lasted just two years. Very intelligent and inclined to rebel against the strictures of her upper-middle-class Viennese parents, she was a poor fit for one of the most misogynistic of all writers. Before the divorce was final, she had borne a son with German playwright Franz Wedekind; among other numerous lovers was English painter Augustus John. Although Strauss, a cultural journalist, ultimately fails to convince us that Strindberg's life, beyond her liaisons with famous artistic men, requires full-length biographical treatment, she does provide a fascinating cultural history. On the one hand, Strindberg's is the not uncommon tragedy of the fin-de-si cle liberated woman discovering that even bohemian men often abused independent-minded, sexually liberated women. On the other, her attraction to emotionally abusive men seems almost willful, her virtual abandonment of her two children irresponsible, and her lectures on and 1935 memoir of August Strindberg delusional and self-serving. Strauss has combed several European archives and writes clearly, and her book belongs in most collections of 19th-century German culture and literature, Strindberg, and women's biography. (Photographs and index not seen.)DRobert W. Melton, Univ. of Kansas Libs., Lawrence
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Johan August on June 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written, good research and a nice portrait of a remarkable woman. Gave leads to other books, - her own biography and Her son Freidrich's book, who lived as a jew in Berlin at the end of WWII. The August Strindberg - Frida Uhl story contains all the stuff that could make an extraordinary drama or opera. I was curious to find if "Kurz" in Joseph Conrads "Heart of Darkness", is a portait inspired by August Strindberg. They were in Gravesend, where Conrad's S/Y Nellie was docked. They sailed on a steamer from Hamburg and August tried to convince the captain that the earth is flat. Frida took a room with an armchair that the captain would like in Gravesend... Joseph Conrad left shipping and started his writing soon after Frida and August visited London 1893, - who was the Captain?, did Frida and August inspire the captain to start writing? August left Frida after 10 days on their honeymoon. She stayed alone 6 weeks in London. Will we ever know what happened? Read it and get excited.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Monica Strauss has written one of the most exciting biographies of recent date. It is intriguing in a way that we rarely come across - she delves the social landscape, the artistic and bohemian pagaentry and the psychological context with ease, aplomb, and expertise. The contradictions of the lifestyle and the paradoxical vein of the cultural milieu add depth to a story of a woman who vies for social standing amid a slew of challanges that threatened to compromise her personhood, challenges primarily occasioned by exciting yet oppressive social contexts (about late 19th century Europe) when femininity was a fashionable dress unbecoming an artistic vanguardism. Strauss writes about Frida Strindberg with verve and wit limning her relationships with August Strindberg and Edvard Munch, the while offering anecdotes that enrich our understanding of the two artists and explain their limits and merits in reference to a woman who becomes the victim of their instability, yet redoubtably studded with a fervid intellectual acumen rises to benefit, absorb and triumph in the trenches of such struggles. Her London years are likewise referenced with names that whom we have knighted as the artificers and intellectual squires of Modernism. Her life was no less important for these times than that of Alma Mahler or Lou Salome (not to mention Gertrude Stein), for she was the impetus that established intellectual forums and gave free rein to its visions: be it because of chance or choice she never cared to become a muse, nor a socialite, but "merely" an individual fully immersed in a whirl teeming with ideas and creative gambits.Read more ›
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