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He spoke of his aim in writing Inferno also in French (1897) in terms of becoming a 'Zola of the occult'. This implies an extension of naturalism. Emile Zola had theorised about the naturalistic novelist as a scientific experimenter - not just an observer and analyst - concerned with a form of truth he scarcely distinguished from sociological fact. Strindberg's experiments involved bringing his art dangerously close to actual life, challenging the conventions of aesthetic distance and the usual pretence that the author is quite outside the novel (or play), godlike in his detachment.

Adolf is emotionally involved, crippled in the dependency love has imposed on him; Gustav is disillusioned and therefore free, at an advantage with the woman who, we gather, was once his wife and with the man who discovers that this was his predecessor. For Gustav, who claims to be simply the scientistphilosopher, 'at work dissecting a human soul and laying out the bits and pieces here on the table', is not disinterested but still involved, through his desire for revenge on the two who together 'betrayed' him.

I Sprinchorn identifies the Lady and the other female characters with aspects of the anima. Part III expressly invokes Dante's Beatrice, and allusions to Goethe and to Doctor Faustus are hardly necessary to confirm that Strindberg was consciously representing the 46 Out of Inferno eternal feminine generally in the Lady and, in specific aspects, through the Mother and lesser female roles. At the beginning of Part I, the Unknown gives the Lady a name, Eve, and an age, as though he (a writer) was inventing her as a character; yet she is also addressed as Ingeborg.

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