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Gertrud (play)

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Title: Gertrud (play)  
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Gertrud (play)

Gertrud is a Swedish 1906 play (drama), in three parts, by author and playwright Hjalmar Söderberg.

Story description

The play is a modern relationship drama (in Sweden often considered as one of the very best Swedish plays ever written) with the middle-age Gertrud in the centre and about her relationships with three different men; her husband Gustav Kanning (a politician), her older, former lover Gabriel Lidman (a business man) and her newfound love Erland Jansson (a young concert pianist): men who have desired — and desire her — in three different ways.

The first act is set in Gustaf Kanning's study at home where Gertrud in the dark, in the first scene, awaits her husband's return from work as she has something important to tell: she's going to leave him. How will Kanning react to this? How will her former love interest — who suddenly returns from a long trip overseas — react? Is her newfound love worth the sacrifice she is about to make?

The play is a penetrating drama on life, love and passion. About the feeling of being trapped and confined in a marriage, the need of love and the search of THE LOVE; but does it exist? How does it show itself and what is real love anyway? Is it a fundamental right to love and be loved? It's also a play about how we all value love and closeness in a relationship — and the need and importance of it in our lives — so completely different. Women and men, and from man to man and woman to woman. Why is it all so difficult?

The original production in Sweden premiered on February 13 1907 at the old Royal Dramatic Theatre featuring Gerda Lundequist in the title role.

Characters

  • Gertrud Kanning
  • Gustav Kanning
  • Gabriel Lidman
  • Erland Jansson
  • Kanning's mother
  • The White Shape

From play

Look at me a little.
Am I beautiful?
No.
But I have loved.
Look at me a little.
Am I young?
No.
But I have loved.
Look at me a little.
Am I alive?
No.
But I have loved.

(The White Shape, Act II)

"I believe in the lust of the flesh and the incurable desolation of the soul." (Gertrud reminding Lidman of the words he once uttered to her).
"And it didn't cost you a thing to tell me this? It was easy and simple? Like cancelling a performance..." (Kanning to Gertrud)
"You are not a real woman. A woman should lie and smile and caress. Yes, caress - and you know how. But you do it for your own pleasure. And you know it! Well, that is not for a woman to know." (Jansson to Gertrud)
KANNING: It doesn't sound as if you loved her that particularly much, your... wife.
LIDMAN: Love? - Nonsense.

Notable productions

Film adaptation

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