Synopses & Reviews
The three plays in this volume cover the period during which Ibsen (1828-1906) was preoccupied with realistic problems of personal and social morality. Even in his most "social" plays, however, it is the poet in Ibsen that illuminates with unforgettable intensity. Collected in this title are: PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY, THE WILD DUCK and HEDDA GABLER.
In these three unforgettably intense plays, Henrik Ibsen explores the problems of personal and social morality that he perceived in the world around him and, in particular, the complex nature of truth. The Pillars of the Community (1877) depicts a corrupt shipowner's struggle to hide the sins of his past at the expense of another man's reputation, while in The Wild Duck (1884) an idealist, believing he must tell the truth at any cost, destroys a family by exposing the lie behind his friend's marriage. And Hedda Gabler (1890) portrays an unhappily married woman who is unable to break free from the conventional life she has created for herself, with tragic results for the entire family.
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The three plays in this volume cover the period during which Ibsen (1828-1906) was preoccupied with realistic problems of personal and social morality. In The Pillars of the Community, partly by means of symbolism, he exposes the effects of a lie told to preserve a man's public reputation. The solution - to admit the truth - scarcely seemed so simple seven years later, when Ibsen completed The Wild Duck in apparent disillusionment. Hedda Gabler, the latest of these plays, is both a drama of individual conflict and partial return to social themes.
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 Christianiapresent-day Osloas 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.
Table of Contents
The pillars of the community --The wild duck --Hedda Gabler.