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- Early Plays - 3/50 -

consisted of very discriminating men; and that there could be as little doubt that the booksellers of the town would one and all gladly pay a round fee for the first edition, the main point being, he thought, only to discover the one who would make the highest bid.

After a long and tense period of waiting there began to appear in the meantime a few difficulties. My friend had the piece returned from the management with a particularly polite but equally peremptory rejection. He now took the manuscript from bookseller to bookseller; but all to a man expressed themselves to the same effect as the theatrical management. The highest bidder demanded so and so much to publish the piece without any fee.

All this, however, was far from lessening my friend's belief in victory. He wrote to the contrary that it was best even so; I should come forward myself as the publisher of my drama; the necessary funds he would advance me; the profits we should divide in consideration of his undertaking the business end of the deal, except the proof-reading, which he regarded as superfluous in view of the handsome and legible manuscript the printers had to follow. In a later letter he declared that, considering these promising prospects for the future, he contemplated abandoning his studies in order to consecrate himself completely to the publishing of my works; two or three plays a year, he thought, I should with ease be able to write, and according to a calculation of probabilities he had made he had discovered that with our surplus we should at no distant time be able to undertake the journey so often agreed upon or discussed, through Europe and the Orient.

My journey was for the time being limited to Christiania. I arrived there in the beginning of the spring of 1850 and just previous to my arrival _Catiline_ had appeared in the bookstalls. The drama created a stir and awakened considerable interest among the students, but the critics dwelt largely on the faulty verses and thought the book in other respects immature. A more appreciative judgment was uttered from but one single quarter, but this expression came from a man whose appreciation has always been dear to me and weighty and whom I herewith offer my renewed gratitude. Not very many copies of the limited edition were sold; my friend had a good share of them in his custody, and I remember that one evening when our domestic arrangements heaped up for us insurmountable difficulties, this pile of printed matter was fortunately disposed of as waste paper to a huckster. During the days immediately following we lacked none of the prime necessities of life.

During my sojourn at home last summer and particularly since my return here there loomed up before me more clearly and more sharply than ever before the kaleidoscopic scenes of my literary life. Among other things I also brought out _Catiline_. The contents of the book as regards details I had almost forgotten; but by reading it through anew I found that it nevertheless contained a great deal which I could still acknowledge, particularly if it be remembered that it is my first undertaking. Much, around which my later writings center, the contradiction between ability and desire, between will and possibility, the intermingled tragedy and comedy in humanity and in the individual,--appeared already here in vague foreshadowings, and I conceived therefore the plan of preparing a new edition, a kind of jubilee-edition,--a plan to which my publisher with his usual readiness gave his approval.

But it was naturally not enough simply to reprint without further ado the old original edition, for this is, as already pointed out, nothing but a copy of my imperfect and uncorrected concept or of the very first rough draft. In the rereading of it I remembered clearly what I originally had had in mind, and I saw moreover that the form practically nowhere gave a satisfactory rendering of what I had wished.

I determined therefore to revise this drama of my youth in a way in which I believe even at that time I should have been able to do it had the time been at my disposal and the circumstances more favorable for me. The ideas, the conceptions, and the development of the whole, I have not on the other hand altered. The book has remained the original; only now it appears in a complete form.

With this in mind I pray that my friends in Scandinavia and elsewhere will receive it; I pray that they will receive it as a greeting from me at the close of a period which to me has been full of changes and rich in contradictions. Much of what I twenty-five years ago dreamed has been realized, even though not in the manner nor as soon as I then hoped. Yet I believe now that it was best for me thus; I do not wish that any of that which lies between should have been untried, and if I look back upon what I have lived through I do so with thanks for everything and thanks to all.


_Dresden, February, 1875._

* * * * *



AURELIA His wife.

FURIA A vestal.

CURIUS A youth related to Catiline.

MANLIUS An old warrior.

LENTULUS Young and noble Roman.

GABINIUS " " " "



CETHEGUS " " " "

AMBIORIX Ambassador of the Allobroges.

OLLOVICO " " " "

An old MAN.

PRIESTESSES and SERVANTS in the Temple of Vesta.


ESCORT of the Allobroges.

Sulla's GHOST.

* * * * *


The first and second acts are laid in and near Rome, the third act in Etruria.

* * * * *


[The Flaminian Way outside of Rome. Off the road a wooded hillside. In the background loom the walls and the heights of the city. It is evening.]

[CATILINE stands on the hill among the bushes, leaning against a tree.]

CATILINE. I must! I must! A voice deep in my soul Urges me on,--and I will heed its call. Courage I have and strength for something better, Something far nobler than this present life,-- A series of unbridled dissipations--! No, no; they do not satisfy the yearning soul.

CATILINE. I rave and rave,--long only to forget. 'Tis past now,--all is past! Life has no aim.

CATILINE. [After a pause.] And what became of all my youthful dreams? Like flitting summer clouds they disappeared, Left naught behind but sorrow and remorse;-- Each daring hope in turn fate robbed me of.

[He strikes his forehead.]

CATILINE. Despise yourself! Catiline, scorn yourself! You feel exalted powers in your soul;-- And yet what is the goal of all your struggle? The surfeiting of sensual desires.

CATILINE. [More calmly.] But there are times, such as the present hour, When secret longings kindle in my breast. Ah, when I gaze on yonder city, Rome, The proud, the rich,--and when I see that ruin And wretchedness to which it now is sunk Loom up before me like the flaming sun,-- Then loudly calls a voice within my soul: Up, Catiline;--awake and be a man!

CATILINE. [Abruptly.] Ah, these are but delusions of the night, Mere dreaming phantoms born of solitude. At the slightest sound from grim reality,-- They flee into the silent depths within.

[The ambassadors of the Allobroges, AMBIORIX and OLLOVICO, with their Escort, come down the highway without noticing CATILINE.]

Early Plays - 3/50

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