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A: August Strindberg Pf: 1889, Copenhagen Pb: 1890 Tr: 1912 G: Drama in 1 act; Swedish prose S: Café, Sweden, 1880s C: 3fMadame X, a married actress, enters a café with Christmas shopping and sees an old acquaintance Amelia (Mademoiselle Y), an unmarried actress. She pities Mlle Y for sitting alone on Christmas Eve and repeats that she should not have broken off her engagement. Mme X shows off the presents she has bought for her children and the slippers that she has embroidered for her husband. When she assures Mlle Y that she did not cause her to be sacked from the theatre, Mlle Y remains silent. Mme X invites her for dinner, but still Amelia says nothing. Gradually, it occurs to Mme X that Amelia has had an affair with her husband, which is why she broke off her engagement and will not come to dinner. She believes that all her husband's likes and dislikes have been determined by Mlle Y: she is like a snake or a stork ready to pounce on her victims. However, Mme X feels triumphant: she is going home to her husband and children.

A: August Strindberg Pf: 1889, Copenhagen Pb: 1890 Tr: 1912 G: Drama in 1 act; Swedish prose S: Café, Sweden, 1880s C: 3f

This tightly wrought psychological mini-drama is based primarily on an affair Strindberg had with an actress in 1882, for which his wife Siri von Essen forgave him. Strindberg allows Mme X to reveal her own insecurities and unhappiness without her antagonist uttering a single word. Although Strindberg seemed to view the wife as ‘the stronger’, there is some doubt: is it the voluble woman claiming to have a happy marriage, or is it the silent woman who taught Mme X's husband how to love?

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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