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Reviews367 royal entertainment, focusing on the aesthetic dimensions of these multi-faceted but apparently broadly conceived forms, provide very revealing and useful analyses of this late Renaissance phenomenon. Limon's argument here is convincing, and his literary readings of the entertainments are sensitive and thought-provoking. It is unfortunate that Limon—or the milieu of contemporary literary criticism—cannot find a more comfortable place for this kind of solid scholarship and critical analysis. ELISE BICKFORD JORGENS Western Michigan University Carla Waal. Harriet Bosse: Strindberg's Muse and Interpreter. Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, 1990. Pp. xii + 298. $39.95. Carla Waal, professor of theater, published in 1967 an impressive study of the life and career of the Norwegian actress Johanne Dybwad. The present work is in the same tradition, part biography and part acting history, and examines the actress Harriet Bosse, also Norwegian by birth but with a forty-four year career on the Swedish stage (1899-1943), primarily at the Royal Dramatic Theater. In the theater history of the period, Johanne Dybwad, ten years her senior, occupies a prominent position, while Harriet Bosse's career, marked by many vicissitudes of fortune, lacks the recognition of the former. In her biography of the younger actress, Waal sets out to analyze the reception of Bosse by the critics to determine her particular style of acting, its evolution, and its relation to the existing taste and tradition. From this perspective her book involves a re-evaluation of Bosse, whose subdued intimate realism is interpreted as a renewal which anticipates a more modern style of acting. Her study has drawn upon a vast range of sources, published and unpublished, as well as interviews. The book is rich in information about acting and theater and outlines the contours of Bosse's professional career in the theater with meticulous attention to detail. At times the latter tends to favor historical description rather than an in-depth analysis, Seen in this context the subtitle to her book is unclear and serves mainly to make her book relevant to prospective readers who may have heard of the famous Swedish playwright. The latter is also highlighted on the dust jacket by the photograph of Bosse as Eleonora in Easter in the 1901 production at the Royal Dramatic Theater—"the delicacy and mysticism of her portrayal are captured in a role portrait showing her in a simple striped blouse, hair framing her face, eyes lowered, and hands held as though in prayer" (p. 224). It is pleasing to see a scholarly book with such quality design, richly illustrated (forty-one photographs), written with elegance and verve. Bosse was Strindberg's "Muse" since she served as inspiration for themes and motifs in his late work. The poems "The Golden Eagle" and "The Dutchman" with their easily recognizable biographical elements are singled out. But Waal's many observations in the section "Muse and Image" (pp. 204-06) are not developed into a thematic analysis—understandable since her book is after all about "Bosse as actress" and not about "Strindberg as playwright." The mythology of 368Comparative Drama Harriet as "Die Ferne Geliebte" and of their union as "Götterkinder," living a higher life on a higher plane, served as a creative act of fantasy ultimately broken in the momentous crisis in the spring of 1908 when Strindberg finally abandoned his dream of love. The catalyst in this crisis was Bosse's engagement and marriage to the actor Gunnar Wingârd. The 1908 crisis attests to the significance of Bosse as an anima figure in his life, a mediatrix between the divine and the human. This romantic projection had little to do with Harriet Bosse, his wife from 1901-04, and could never be reconciled with his sexual anxieties and fears of intimacy. At such moments the divine Harriet becomes a representation of the "Erdgeist," the demons fettering his spirit to the bondage of the flesh, the familiar gnostic juxtaposition. The pattern of distancing and successive break-ups and his continued obsession with his imagined Harriet opens into unresolved psychological dichotomies that Strindberg could resolve poetically in his art but not in his life. For the scholar it becomes particularly difficult to differentiate...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 367-375
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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