Zones of the Spirit

A Book of Thoughts


August Strindberg

("A Blue Book" - excerpts)

Lust, Hate, and Fear, or the Religion of the

    The teacher said: "You know one of my
tasks in life has been to unmask gyneolatry, the
worship of women in history and life.  I have
called it 'the superstition of the heathen,' because
there is something exclusively heathenish about it.
Woman-worship is the religion of the heathen,
but it is a religion of fear, which has nothing to
do with love.  Lust, hate, and fear--those are
the component parts of it.  As soon as a heathen
comes in the proximity of a woman, he becomes
tame and cowardly; faithless towards his friends,
his convictions, and himself.  He immediately
desires that others should venerate his idol whom
he hates and fears.  That is a side of his animal
    "Gyneolatry is not Christian in its origin, but
heathenish.  All animals and savage races fear
their women.  When heathenism in the Greco-
Roman and Moorish colonies of southern France
and Italy got the upper hand, then began gyneo-
latry, the worship of mistresses.  This worship                                165

was dishonestly confounded with chivalrous
reverence for the Madonna, which was quite
another thing.  This religion of the heathen is
the religion of fear and concealed hatred.  There-
fore all tyrants have been punished by having a
woman to oppress and torment them.  Sweden-
borg explains the reason."

        "Whom the gods wish to destroy"

    The teacher continued: "A man's goodwill
and generosity towards his wife stands in direct
relation to her behaviour.  When therefore a
woman is ill-treated by her husband, we know
of what sort she is.  The apparently subordinate
position which the woman occupies is the direct
result of the position which nature has assigned
to this immature transition-form between child and
man.  The child has also a subordinate position;
that is quite natural, and no reasonable man has
objected to it.  Woman is the earth-spirit who
effectuates a certain harmony with the earth-life.
To this earth-life we must bring our sacrifice;
therefore it is that a man feels at home in his
house, and therefore wife and child comfort and
protect us against the cold abstraction, life.
    "Marriage is the hardest school in which re-
nunciation and self-conquest is learned; it is
also a forcing-house for wickedness of all kinds,                                     166

especially the hellish sin of imperiousness.  How
low the sons of the Lord of Dung stand on the
ladder of development may be seen from their
conviction that they are only equal to the woman
or subordinate to her.  Blinded by this penal
hallucination, they work for their own destruc-
tion when they battle for the emancipation of
women, for the gods wish to destroy them.

               The Slavery of the Prophet

    "[John] Stuart Mill, who became the prophet of
the woman's cause, had formed an attachment for
another man's wife.l  As a punishment he had to
live in the hallucination that he derived all his
thoughts from her.  She was indeed his medium,
and as such she repeated his thoughts as though
they came from her, and he believed she was
his superior.  When somebody asked if he had
received his 'Logic,' which he wrote before he
knew her, also from her, he answered, 'Yes.'
This sober Positivist, who only believed in tables
of statistics, was obsessed by the powerful delusion
that the simple-minded woman was his Genius.
He could not rise to a higher idea of God.
One thing I am sure of: as soon as a man
deserts God, he becomes the thrall of a female
devil.  All tyrants, above and below, are caught

                            1 Mrs. Taylor.                                                            167

in these chains, out of which only God in heaven
can help a man.  But He can certainly.  One
sees it in those who have come alive out of this
hell.  I know one  . . ."
    "I know two!" the pupil interrupted.

                     Absurd Problems

    The teacher continued: "There are several
reasons why woman is depicted as a sphinx by
men.  She is incomprehensible because her soul
is rudimentary, and she thinks with her body.
Her judgments are dictated by interests and
passions, she draws conclusions according to the
state of the weather and the phases of the moon.
She will sell her best friend for a theatre-ticket,
or leave her sick child to see a balloon ascend.
She murders her husband in order to be able to
go to a bathing-resort, and forswears her religion
for a diamond ring.  At the same time she can
appear to be a charming woman, tender towards
her children, amiable, and before all things polite
and affable.  She may also appear a good house-
hold manager, or at any rate enjoy the reputation
of being one.   She can produce the illusion that
she is quick at apprehension, although she does
not really understand a word.  She can exhibit
sacrifices which are only ostentation, and give
away only in order to receive back.  Why cannot                                168

one guess the riddle of this sphinx?  Because
there is no riddle there!  Why is woman incom-
prehensible?  Because the problem is absurd.
She is an irrational function because she operates
with variable quantities under the radical signs.
    "Nevertheless we take her as a charming
actuality, a delightful child who may pull three
hairs out of our beard; but if it pulls the fourth,
there is an end to the enchantment."

                      The Crooked Rib

    The teacher said : "Goethe says in his Divan, l
'Woman is fashioned out of a crooked rib; if
one tries to bend her, she breaks, if one lets her
alone, she becomes still more crooked.'  Thus
there is nothing to be done.  The only tactics
one can adopt, as Napoleon did, are flight, or at
any rate to break off contact and intimacy.  This
never fails; if one deprives a woman of the
victim of her hatred, she pines away.
    "Man loves and woman hates; man gives and
woman takes; man sacrifices and woman devours.
When the woman wishes to show her superiority
in intellect, she commits a rascality.  Her utmost
endeavour is to deceive her husband.  If she can
trick him into eating horse-flesh without noticing
it, she is happy.  When woman gets her milk-

            1 The saying is originally Muhammed's.                                                    169

teeth, she does not learn to speak but to lie, for
speech and falsehood are synonymous for her.
Every married man knows all that.  But polite-
ness and his own vanity keep him silent.  Often
he is silent because of his children; often because
he is ashamed in the name of humanity.  He
thinks how often one has drunk the toasts of
mother, wife, sister, daughter--these fictions in a
world of deceit, where all is vanity of vanities.
But many men are silent because they are afraid
of being  called  'woman-haters.'  They are
afraid !"

                         White Slavery

    The teacher said: "In the whole of the upper
and middle classes and a good way below them
the following is the case with regard to marriage:
When a man marries, his work, which he can
devolve on no one else, increases.  His wife, on
the other hand, at once gets a servant to do her
work; if she has children, then she gets a nurse
besides.  But she herself sits there without
occupation, and tries to kill time with useless
trivialities.  In this way she can neither get an
appetite for dinner, nor sleep at night.  In the
evening her husband comes home, and wants to
enjoy the domestic hearth; but his wife wants to
go to the theatre and restaurant.  She is not tired,
but bored by want of occupation, and therefore                            170

wants amusement.  Women, in fact, seem not to
be born for domestic life, but for the theatre, the
restaurant, and the Street.  Therefore women
complain that they must sit at home.  Although
they have slaves to serve them, they call them-
selves 'slaves' and hold meetings to discuss their
own emancipation, but not that of their servants.
Their animalised husbands support them without
observing that they themselves are slaves; for he
who works for the idle is a slave.  But it is
written,'Ye are bought with a price; be slaves
to no man.' "


    The pupil asked: "What is a woman-hater?"
The teacher answered: "I do not know.  But
the expression is used as a term of reproach by
noodles, for those who say what all think.
Noodles are those men who cannot come near a
woman without losing their heads and becoming
faithless.  They purchase the woman's favour
by delivering up the heads of their friends on
silver chargers; and they absorb so much femi-
ninity, that they see with feminine eyes and feel
with feminine feelings.  There are things which
one does not say every day, and one does not tell
one's wife what her sex is composed of.  But
one has the right to put it on paper sometimes.
Schopenhauer has done it the best, Nietzsche                                    171

not badly, Peladan is the master.  Thackeray
wrote Men's Wives, but the book was ignored.
Balzac has unmasked Caroline in the Petites Miseres
de la vie Conjugale.  Otto Weininger discovered
the deceit at the age of twenty; he did not wait
for the consequent vengeance, but went his own
way, i.e. died.   I have said that the child is
a little criminal, incapable of self-guidance, but
I love children all the same.  I have said that
a woman is--what she is, but I have always loved
some woman, and been a father.  Whoever there-
fore calls me a woman-hater is a blockhead, a
liar, or a noodle.  Or all three together."

                Inextricable Confusion

    The teacher continued: "If on the other side
of the grave there were a Judge Rhadamanthus
appointed to arrange the disputes of men, he
would never come to an end.  Life is such a
tissue of lies, errors, misunderstandings, of debts
and demands, that a balancing of the books is
impossible.  I know men who have been lied
about their whole lives through.  I know of one
who was branded through his whole life with
the stigma of a seducer, although he has never
seduced, but was seduced himself.   I know of
an uncommonly truthful man who had the re-
putation of being a liar.   I know an honourable                                          172

man who passed for a thief.  I know a man
who was three times married, and had children
in all three marriages, but  was said to be no
man, because he, as a man, would not be the
slave of his wife ...                                                                                    173

The above text was taken from "Zones of the Spirit:
A Book of Thoughts", by August Strindberg, with
introduction by Arthur Babillotte, translated by Claud
Field, M.A., George Allen & Company, LTD., London,

This page was prepared by Thomas Pollock aka
Spartacus, Editor of The Men's Tribune .  Page
numbers appear on the margin.