Selma Lagerlöf


Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940), Swedish writer, made famous by her book Gösta Berlings Saga published in 1891.


This is her answer to a journalistic inquiry about Duncan's dancing. Selma Lagerlöf was then 48 years old. Published in Dienes, Gedeon: Remembering - Isadora Duncan - Emlékkönyv. Budapest, Orkesztika, 2002.



  Oh, ladies of later times! Are your ankles not as small and smooth as those of Hellenic women, and are your knees not just as attractive as theirs, and are your legs not as elastic as their?


  Why is there no joy in your dance? No devotion, no upward drive? I shall compare your thoughtless movements to the falling barren leaves of autumn...


  It is dark in the auditorium, like on the first morning of creation. The spirit of music, however, is floating through the stage. The people in unison drop their heads, whisper and wait...


  And the maid is coming, her arms are merging with the beat of her long leap, like the attempt of a wing-shot snipe to rise towards the pure spaces of young years and memories. Her gestures are telling. A soul is dancing before us.

  About ancient things like a beautiful dream, unperishably young and sacred. But at the same time, this is also your soul moving in front of you without corset, without high heels and without fishbone.    

  This is your own soul, like those dances in the dawn of times, barefoot and jubilant on your dew-sprinkled meadows.