Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism

Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism

Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism

Edvard Munch and the Physiology of Symbolism

Synopsis

Nineteenth-century physiology connected the body to the human psyche. This book explores how and why Munch exploited various aspects of physiology in his art.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to set the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in a new context—that of nineteenth-century physiology; it is not the intention of the author to replace the details of Munch's Symbolist themes (those of feelings and the soul, love, life, and death) as put forward by previous writers and even Munch himself. I refer the reader to the bibliography at the back of this book for the significant works done by, among others, Reinhold Heller, Arne Eggum, Gerd Woll, Patricia Berman, Carla Lathe, Ragna Stang, Alf Bøe, and Roy Boe.

I would like to thank Professor Marcel Franciscono at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign for his careful reading and editing of this manuscript, as well as the many substantive suggestions he made along its path to completion. Pat Nickinson and Christine Retz did a fine job of editing in its final stages. I am very grateful to the entire staff at the Munch Museum in Oslo, particularly Research Librarian Sissel Biørnstad whose assistance was always professional, courteous, and prompt, and Curator Arne Eggum who so patiently listened to my ideas, responding when he thought of something relevant to my interests, and generously loaning me significant books from his personal library. Lise Knarberg Hansen of the Faculty of Medicine Library of the University of Oslo was very helpful, as was the staff of the Manuscript Department at the University Library, Oslo. I would also like to thank Professor Roger Saban of the Université René Descartes in Paris for information and image support relating to the Spitzner Collection, Elizabeth Ihrig and Ellen Kuhfeld at the Bakken Library in Minneapolis, and to the library staff at Millikin University, in particular Chuck Hale, Karin Borei, Ruth Nihiser, Virginia McQuistion, and Susan Avery. I am particularly indebted to the generosity of the Norwegian Marshall Fund, which made it possible for me to conduct my research in Oslo; the Bakken Library; and Millikin University; as well as the University of Illinois Graduate College, the Office of International Studies, and the Art History Department from whom I also received research grants. Dr. Howard Beede and Professor Neil Baird provided their medical and biological expertise respectively. And thank you to my friends and family, especially John, Dorian, and Evan for their love, patience, advice, and humor.

While French and German translations are my own, I would like to thank Professors Madelyn Mihm and Elizabeth Wade for their assistance. I would also like to thank Anne-Marie Andreasson for her translations of Norwegian manuscripts in the Munch Archive, Oslo, as well as Lisa Berg for the Swedish, and Sissel Biørnstad, Arne Eggum, Frank Høifødt, Clarence Josefson, Michael Aller, and Ann Kunish for their additional help. Instances where I have used previously translated material are so cited. Since Munch reused his notebooks and sketchbooks, with many repetitions and later additions, the dates of certain manuscripts are still uncertain. I have generally, however, followed the dates given by Reinhold Heller, as well as those given me by Arne Eggum and Sissel Biørnstad at the Munch Museum and Archive.

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