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August Strindberg: Progeny of soulless militarism

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

August Strindberg: What has become of the sacred promise of peace on our earth?

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August Strindberg
From Corinna (1886)
Translator unknown

Since her father occupied the highest rank in their circle of friends, everybody treated him with an amount of respect which is rarely shown to equals, and as she was the general’s daughter, she was treated in the same way. She held the rank of a general and she knew it.

There was always an orderly sitting in the hall who rose with much clanking and clashing of steel and stood at attention whenever she went in or out. At the balls none but the majors dared to ask her for a dance; she looked upon a captain as a representative of an inferior race, and a lieutenant as a naughty boy.

She fell into the habit of appreciating people entirely according to their rank. She called all civilians “fishes,” poorly-clad people “rascals,” and the very poor “the mob.”

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As she belonged to an old family which on her father’s side, had squandered its strength in a soulless militarism, drink and dissipation, and on her mother’s had suppressed fertility to prevent the splitting up of property, Nature seemed to have hesitated about her sex at the eleventh hour; or perhaps had lacked strength to determine on the continuation of the race.

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