Dagny: Dagny Juel Przybyszewska, the Woman and the Myth

Mary Kay Norseng, Author, Mary Kay Noeseng, Author University of Washington Press $37.95 (219p) ISBN 978-0-295-96999-2
A biography of Przybyszewska (1867-1901), a woman who inflamed the fin-de-siecle bohemias of both Berlin and Krakow with her intellect and sensuality, only to be murdered by an unstable lover, this is a remarkable story, notable for the peculiar tension it portrays in a woman caught between the avant-garde and the bourgeoisie. Wife of Stanislaw Przybyszewski, friend and inspiration to painter Edvard Munch, nemesis of playwright August Strindberg, Dagny was seen by her contemporaries as a creature of nearly mythical proportions, but she was also a devoted daughter and sister who returned regularly to her family's estate in Norway when the rigors of the artistic life became too much. Yet while the material here is interesting, the book is not. Part of the problem is Norseng's nonlinear, impressionistic strategy, one which details Dagny's life by accumulation and indirection and tends to sidestep the idea of context and the narrative flow of a life unfolding. Even more disturbing, though, is the author's sniping at the inaccuracies of other scholars, which only serves to deflect attention from the subject at hand. Norseng teaches Scandinavian literature at UCLA. Photos not seen by PW. (June )
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-295-99814-5
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