The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth

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Terrace Books, Jul 13, 2005 - Art - 205 pages
Scandinavia's most famous painter, the Norwegian Edvard Munch (1863-1944), is probably best known for his painting The Scream, a universally recognized icon of terror and despair. (A version was stolen from the 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. While these diaries have been excerpted before, no translation has captured the real passion and poetry of Munch's voice. This is a translation that 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.

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Page 6 - In front, by a stream - here, as it were - sits a man so laden with guilt that he cannot quite free himself from the earth's crust. I call him remorse for a wasted life. He sits and dips his fingers in the running brook to wash them clean, and he is racked and tormented by the knowledge that he will never succeed - never in all eternity will he be free to live the resurrected life. He must stay for ever in his own hell.
Page 5 - Dit Mot var stort naar Hopen stod og gapte og Liv og Kunst slog op sit troldske Spil. Vi ringer nu for alt du vandt og tapte, for alt du levet i din Ensomhet og skapte. Vi ringer. Du vil evig vaere til!
Page 4 - At digte , — det er at holde dommedag over sig selv. (To live is to war with trolls in the cave of the heart and mind. To write is to hold the judgment of doomsday over one's self.) This was also Hunch's war.

About the author (2005)

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.

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