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Historical Miniatures   By: (1849-1912)

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HISTORICAL MINIATURES

by

AUGUST STRINDBERG (Translated by CLAUD FIELD, M.A.)

PREFACE

Maximilian Harden, the well known critic, writes in the Zukunft (7th September 1907) of the Historical Miniatures :

"A very interesting book, as might be expected, for it is Strindberg's. And I am bold enough to say a book which should and must be successful with the public. The writer is not here concerned with Sweden, nor with Natural History. A philosopher and poet here describes the visions which a study of the history of mankind has called up before his inner eye. Julian the Apostate and Peter the Hermit appear on the stage, together with Attila and Luther, Alcibiades and Eginhard. We see the empires of the Pharaohs and the Czars, the Athens of Socrates and the 'Merry England' of Henry VIII. There are twenty brief episodes, and each of them is alive. So powerful is the writer's faculty of vision, that it compels belief in his descriptions of countries and men."

"The question whether these cultured circles really were as described, hardly occurs to us. Never has the remarkable writer shown a more comprehensive grasp. Since the days of the Confession of a Fool , Strindberg has become a writer of world wide significance."

[Footnote: one collection of Maximilian Harden's essays is published by Messrs. Blackwood, and another by Mr. Eveleigh Nash.]

CONTENTS

PREFACE

THE EGYPTIAN BONDAGE

THE HEMICYCLE OF ATHENS

ALCIBIADES

SOCRATES

FLACCUS AND MARO

LEONTOPOLIS

THE LAMB

THE WILD BEAST

THE APOSTATE

ATTILA

THE SERVANT OF SERVANTS

ISHMAEL

EGINHARD TO EMMA

THE CLOSE OF THE FIRST MILLENNIUM

PETER THE HERMIT

LAOCOON

THE INSTRUMENT

OLD MERRY ENGLAND

THE WHITE MOUNTAIN

THE GREAT CZAR

THE SEVEN GOOD YEARS

DAYS OF JUDGMENT

STRINDBERG'S DEATH BED

THE EGYPTIAN BONDAGE

The old worker in ebony and cabinet maker, Amram, dwelt by the river side in a clay hut which was covered with palm leaves. There he lived with his wife and three children. He was yellow in complexion and wore a long beard. Skilled in his trade of carving ebony and hard wood, he attended at Pharaoh's court, and accordingly also worked in the temples. One morning in midsummer, just before sunrise, he got out of bed, placed his implements in a bag, and stepped out of his hut. He remained standing on the threshold for a moment, and, turning to the east, uttered a low prayer. Then he began to walk between fishermen's huts, following the black broken bank of the river, where herons and doves were resting after their morning meal.

His neighbour, the fisherman, Nepht, was overhauling his nets, and placing carp, grayling, and sheat fish in the different partitions of his boat.

Amram greeted him, and wished to say some words in token of friendliness.

"Has the Nile ceased to rise?" he asked.

"It remains standing at ten yards' height. That means starvation!"

"Do you know why it cannot rise higher than fifteen yards, Nepht?"

"Because otherwise we should drown," answered the fisherman simply.

"Yes, certainly, and that we cannot. The Nile, then, has a Lord who controls the water level; and He who has measured out the starry vault, and laid the foundations of the earth, has set up a wall for the waters, and this wall, which we cannot see, is fifteen yards high. For during the great flood in the land of our fathers, Ur of the Chaldees, the water rose fifteen yards no more, no less. Yes, Nepht, I say 'we,' for you are of our people, though you speak another tongue, and honour strange gods. I wish you a good morning, Nepht, a very good morning."

He left the abashed fisherman, went on, and entered the outskirts of the city, where began the rows of citizens' houses built of Nile bricks and wood. He saw the merchant and money changer Eleazar taking down his window shutters while his assistant sprinkled water on the ground before the shop. Amram greeted him, "A fine morning, cousin Eleazar."

"I cannot say," answered the tradesman sulkily. "The Nile has remained stationary, and begins to sink... Continue reading book >>




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