Thursday, December 28, 2006

More on Cultivation

I thought that I'd never get back to my Guide to Being Cultivated! But, with the New Year rolling around, why not rehash it? Here are some Scandinavians that you absolutely must become familiar with in your lifetime:

August Strindberg: One of the great playwrights of modernism, Strindberg's work still perplexes, frustrates, and provokes the contemporary theatregoer. A personal favorite is The Father, in which the anonymity of the womb efaces masculine identity and drowns it in a river of invisible others.

Henrik Ibsen: I've said before that I think A Doll's House is fairly overrated, but there's no denying the power of Ghosts or Peer Gynt. One should make up their own mind about Ibsen, which is fairly easy since his works are constantly performed.

Knut Hmasun: His Nazi sympathies and the declining quality of his later works have long overshadowed the great novels that he wrote. But, Hunger and Wayfarers are two of the great novels of the twentieth century.

Ingmar Bergman: Arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time, Bergman has at least fifteen films that could be considered masterpieces. The easiest of these to start with is Wild Strawberries. His most difficult (But one of my favorite films of all time) is Persona.

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard: Quite a bit of conversation between these fellows, isn't there? Bergman's films deal with several of the same themes (dread, faith, and the thin line between the two) as do Kierkegaard's treatises, and 'Persona' is essentially a reworking of Strindberg's 'A Dream Play'. There must be something about the bracing Northern air that gets people struggling with the nature of existence in their work! I don't expect this to be touted in any of the tourism adverts. Kierkegaard is sniffed at in quite a few philosophy departments; but his stuff still terrifies me. I mean that as a compliment.

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