The Flower and the Castle: An Introduction to Modern Drama

By Maurice Valency | Go to book overview
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Ibsen

IN 1866, before Brand was published, Ibsen looked like a character out of La Vie de Bohème, shaggy, black-cloaked, wide- hatted, and vaguely alcoholic. Two years before, he had come to Rome on a tiny government grant. He was ill, uncomfortable, deep in debt, and often hungry. In Christiania, his personal effects had just been sold for debt. In Rome he was at his wits' end to provide for his wife and his little son. He could not even afford to buy stamps: his friend Björnson paid the postage due when Ibsen wrote to him.

The success of Brand changed everything. At one stroke Ibsen became an important writer, a national poet with a government stipend. Without delay, he took on an appropriate personality, and costumed himself carefully for the part he was henceforth to play. Carefully brushed and barbered, in velvet jacket, light waistcoat, checked trousers, and shoes of bright patent leather, he stood as tall as he could, spoke seldom, shunned publicity, and made careful investments through his publisher, Frederik Hegel.

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