The Dirt: A Reading Of The Ghost Sonata’s Tricky Third Scene

Undermain Blog

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(Hermes ingeniui)

Scene Three of August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata is famously difficult and has bedeviled artists and audiences since the play’s inception in 1907.  What follows is a little probing on my part into the role dirt plays in this final scene, which may help to illuminate some of its meanings.

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STUDENT: What more?
YOUNG LADY: To sweep up after her, dust after her, light the stove because she only puts in the wood!  To open the damper, dry the glasses, reset the table, fetch the bottles, open the windows and air out the room, remake my bed, scour the water carafe when it’s green with algae, buy matches and soap which we’re always out of, clean the lamps and trim the wicks so they won’t smoke and fill them when we have guests so they won’t go out…

STUDENT: Sing!

YOUNG LADY: Wait! – First the…

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