The University of Wisconsin Press
Memoir / Art / Poetry
The Private Journals of Edvard Munch
We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth
Edited and translated by J. Gill Holland
Foreword by Frank Høifødt
A compelling translation of Munch's personal and provocative journals
Scandinavia's most famous painter, the Norwegian Edvard Munch (18631944), is probably best known for his painting The Scream, a universally recognized icon of terror and despair. (A version of The Scream was stolen from the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, in August 2004, and has not yet been recovered.) But Munch considered himself a writer as well as a painter. Munch began painting as a teenager and, in his young adulthood, studied and worked in Paris and Berlin, where he evolved a highly personal style in paintings and works on paper. And in diaries that he kept for decades, he also experimented with reminiscence, fiction, prose portraits, philosophical speculations, and surrealism. Known as an artist who captured both the ecstasies and the hellish depths of the human condition, Munch conveys these emotions in his diaries but also reveals other facets of his personality in remarks and stories that are alternately droll, compassionate, romantic, and cerebral.
This English translation of Edvard Munch's private diaries, the most extensive edition to appear in any language, captures the eloquent lyricism of the original Norwegian text. The journal entries in this volume span the period from the 1880s, when Munch was in his twenties, until the 1930s, reflecting the changes in his life and his work. The book is illustrated with fifteen of Munch's drawings, many of them rarely seen before. Though excerpts from these diaries have been previously published elsewhere, no translation has captured the real passion and poetry of Munch's voice. This translation lets Munch speak for himself and evokes the primal passion of his diaries. J. Gill Holland's exceptional work adds a whole new level to our understanding of the artist and the depth of his scream.
J. Gill Holland is professor emeritus of English at Davidson College in North Carolina. He is the author of two books of poetry and numerous articles on literature and art, and he has served on the editorial board of Munch Magazine. He also discovered previously unknown sketches by Munch in books from the artist's personal library, housed in the archives of the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway.
The sun going downhad
dipped in flames
below the horizon.
It was like
a flaming sword
of blood slicing through
the concave of heaven.
The sky was like
strips of fire
the hills turned
the fiord-cut in
cold blue, yellow, and
the path and hand railing
my friends turned
glaring yellow white-
a great scream . . .
excerpt from the Journals, referring to the painting known as The Scream
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LC: 2003022203 N
224 pp. 6 x 9 15 b/w drawings
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