WHO SAID IT: August Strindberg or August Wilson?

Wilson photographed by Arty Pomerantz


(1) “Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”

(2) “You got to be right with yourself before you can be right with anybody else.”

(3) “Life is not so idiotically mathematical that only the big eat the small; it is just as common for a bee to kill a lion or at least to drive it mad.”

(4) “Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.” 

(5)  “I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams…and I buried them inside you. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom.”

(6) “Everybody in a hurry to slow down.” 

(7) “Those who won’t accept evil never get anything good.” 

(8) “I am a socialist, a nihilist, a republican, anything that is anti-reactionary!… I want to turn everything upside down to see what lies beneath; I believe we are so webbed, so horribly regimented, that no spring-cleaning is possible, everything must be burned, blown to bits, and then we can start afresh.” 

(9) “You can put law on paper but that don’t make it right.” 

(10) “I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves.” 

(11) “You die how you live.” 

(12) “Speaking at last becomes a vice, like drinking. And why speak, if words do not cloak thoughts?”

(13) “Family: the home of all social evil, a charitable institution for comfortable women, an anchorage for fathers, and a hell for children.” 

(14) “Everybody got stones in their passway. You got to step over them or walk around them. You picking them up and carrying them with you. All you got to do is set them down by the side of the road. You ain’t got to carry them with you.” 

Strindberg. Self-portrait. Gersau, Switzerland. 1886.

(15) “But unfortunately, I am a man, and there is nothing for me to do but, like a Roman, fold my arms across my breast and hold my breath till I die.

(16) “Some people have accused my tragedy of being too sad, as though one desired a merry tragedy. People clamor for Enjoyment as though Enjoyment consisted in being foolish. I find enjoyment in the powerful and terrible struggles of life; and the capability of experiencing something, of learning something, gives me pleasure.”

(17) “Foreigners in a strange land, they carry as part and parcel of their baggage a long line of separation and dispersement which informs their sensibilities and marks their conduct as they search for ways to reconnect, to reassemble, to give clear and luminous meaning to the song which is both a wail and a whelp of joy.” 

(18) “I’m trying to take culture and put it onstage, demonstrate it is capable of sustaining you. There is no idea that can’t be contained by life.  My plays are about love, honor, duty, betrayal – things humans have written about since the beginning of time.”

(19) “I have a robust imagination and I have imagined for myself many things,”

(20) “You are responsible for the world that you live in. It is not government’s responsibility. It is not your school’s or your social club’s or your church’s or your neighbor’s or your fellow citizen’s. It is yours, utterly and singularly yours.”

(21) “All of art is a search for ways of being, of living life more fully.”

(22) “That really is the worst revenge you can take, for there’s nothing he loathes more than magnanimity.”

(23) “The simpler you say it, the more eloquent it is.”

(24) “I work as an artist, and I think the audience of one, which is the self, and I have to satisfy myself as an artist. So I always say that I write for the same people that Picasso painted for. I think he painted for himself.”

(25) “A novelist writes a novel, and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.”

(26) “It’s a strange thing that you no sooner speak of God and love than your voice becomes hard and your eyes fill with hate.” 

(27) “I think that as a playwright, if I detail that environment, then I’m taking away something from them [designers]. I’m taking away their creativity and their ability to have input themselves, not just to follow what the playwright has written. So I do a minimum set description and let the designers create within that.”

(28) “I don’t write particularly to effect social change. I believe writing can do that, but thats not why I write.”

(29) “What people call success is only preparation for the next failure.”

(30) “Between speeches and awards, you can find something to do every other week. It’s hard to write. Your focus gets splintered. Once you put one thing in your calendar, that month is gone.”

(31) “Necessity knows no rules.”

(32) “Religion must be a punishment, because nobody gets religion who does not have a bad conscience.”

(33) “Meeting each other and leaving each other. Leaving and meeting. That’s what life is.”

(34) “Death doesn’t bargain.”


(1) Wilson; (2) Wilson; (3) Wilson; (4) Strindberg; (5) Wilson; (6) Strindberg; (7) Strindberg; (8) Wilson; (9) Wilson; (10) Strindberg; (11) Wilson; (12) Strindberg; (12) Strindberg; (13) Strindberg; (14) Wilson; (15) Strindberg; (16) Strindberg; (17) Wilson; (18) Wilson; (19) Wilson; (20) Wilson; (21) Wilson; (22) Strindberg; (23) Wilson; (24) Wilson; (25) Wilson; (26) Strindberg; (27) Wilson; (28) Wilson; (29) Strindberg; (30) Wilson; (31) Strindberg; (32) Strindberg; (33) Strindberg; (34) Strindberg

  • Kevin Sessums is the author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs, Mississippi Sissy and I Left It on the Mountain.

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *