In “The First Night”, a section of the long poem Sleepwalking Nights on Wide-Awake Days (1884, 1889), Strindberg uses ekphrasis to compare two works of art in Adolf Fredrik’s Church in Stockholm: the white altar relief representing the resurrection of Jesus, and the nearby black monument in memory of René Descartes. This iconographic comparison contains the tensions as well as the reasoning method the poetic subject wants to express in the long poem as a whole. Antithetically, Jesus embodies the triumphant, authoritarian power of religion and, at the same time, the admired doubter who dared to question and challenge the existing religious tradition, suffering martyrdom for his belief. In one sense, Jesus and Descartes are oppo-sites, as the French philosopher and scientist is seen as a modern light-bringer against the dark power of tradition; in another sense they are akin, as both of them are seen as doubters in search for truth. Furthermore, this episode is a part of larger patterns and leitmotifs characterizing the structure and the rhythm of Sleepwalking Nights: Ekphrastic descriptions and visits in temples of different kind are the most important features in this case. Whereas Descartes could be seen as representative of modern times in “The First Night” the modern project, with its blind faith in science and technology, is profoundly questioned in “The Third Night”, while the protagonist is visiting the former church of St. Martin des Champs in central Paris. By the end of the nineteenth century that temple worshipped a linear, material progress that, in Strindberg’s view, was void of spiritual values. Thus, I read these signs as the evidence of Strindberg’s ambivalence towards Enlightenment and modernity, even before the so-called Inferno Crisis.
|Titolo:||Jesus och Descartes i Adolf Fredriks kyrka. En läsning av Sömngångarnätter|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Articolo su libro|