Synopses & Reviews
Four of Ibsen's most important plays in superb modern translations, part of the new Penguin Ibsen series
With her assertion that she is first and foremost a human being,” Nora Helmer sent shockwaves throughout Europe when she appeared in Henrik Ibsen's greatest and most famous play, A Doll's House. Depicting one woman's struggle to be treated as a rational human being, and not merely a wife, mother, or fragile doll, the play sparked debates worldwide about the roles of men and women in society. Ibsen's follow-up, Ghosts, was no less radical, with its unrelenting investigation into religious hypocrisy, family secrets, and sexual double-dealing. These two masterpieces are accompanied here by The Pillars of Society and An Enemy of the People, both exploring the tensions and dark compromises at the heart of society.
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The plays in this volume - "A Doll's House", "The League of Youth" and "The Lady From the Sea" - demonstrate different sides of Henrik Ibsen's genius, but all deal with themes of alienation from society and the breaking down of convention.
Three of Ibsen's best known plays.
About the Author
Henrik Ibsen was born of well-to-do parents at Skien, a small Norwegian coastal town, on March 20, 1828. In 1836 his father went bankrupt, and the family was reduced to near poverty. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Grimstad. In 1850 Ibsen ventured to Christiania--present-day Oslo--as a student, with the hope of becoming a doctor. On the strength of his first two plays he was appointed "theater-poet" to the new Bergen National Theater, where he wrote five conventional romantic and historical dramas and absorbed the elements of his craft. In 1857 he was called to the directorship of the financially unsound Christiania Norwegian Theater, which failed in 1862. In 1864, exhausted and enraged by the frustration of his efforts toward a national drama and theater, he quit Norway for what became twenty-seven years of voluntary exile abroad. In Italy he wrote the volcanic Brand (1866), which made his reputation and secured him a poet's stipend from the government. Its companion piece, the phantasmagoric Peer Gynt, followed in 1867, then the immense double play, Emperor and Galilean (1873), expressing his philosophy of civilization. Meanwhile, having moved to Germany, Ibsen had been searching for a new style. With The Pillars of Society he found it; this became the first of twelve plays, appearing at two-year intervals, that confirmed his international standing as the foremost dramatist of his age. In 1900 Ibsen suffered the first of several strokes that incapacitated him. He died in Oslo on May 23, 1906.DEBORAH DAWKIN, ERIK SKUGGEVIK, BARBARA J. HAVELAND, and ANNE-MARIE STANTON-IFE are freelance literary translators.
DEBORAH DAWKIN, ERIK SKUGGEVIK, BARBARA J. HAVELAND, and ANNE-MARIE STANTON-IFE are freelance literary translators.