Abstract

This essay explores how Swedish dramatist August Strindberg employed the idea of vivisection – dissection of live animals and, in rare cases, humans – as a trope within The Father and Miss Julie. Throughout his early career, Strindberg played the role of vivisector in order to associate himself with ongoing experimentation in modern medical science as practised by such pioneering scientists as Théodule Ribot, Claude Bernard, and Henry Maudsley. In his effort to vivisect his characters, Strindberg sought to pierce through external surfaces into uncharted physiological and metaphysical terrains that would reveal individual pathologies. The act of opening up his dramatic subjects though theatrical strategies allowed him to engage a wider field of medical discourses for understanding the somatic body. Thus, through his dramatic vivisections, Strindberg moved beyond the observational and objective strategies of naturalism to create instead what he famously termed the art of "greater naturalism," a dramatic technique that strove to see beyond the everyday. In countering his naturalist colleagues in the theatre, such as Émile Zola and André Antoine, Strindberg effectively used vivisection to question observational technique and, in so doing, to destabilize the very foundation of theatrical representation: mimesis.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 329-352
Launched on MUSE
2008-11-20
Open Access
No
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