A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

By Brian W. Downs | Go to book overview

LOVE'S COMEDY
(Kjœrlighedens Komedie) 1862

I

Just for a season let me beg or borrow
A great, a crushing, a stupendous sorrow,
And soon you'll hear my hymns of gladness rise!1

SO FALK, the hero of Love's Comedy, exclaims within a few minutes of the play's beginning. And this, the least solemn or at any rate the most sparkling of his plays, Ibsen wrote during the wretchedest period of his own life. He had come back to Christiania in 185 7, to take over the artistic direction of the small theatre in the Møllergate which existed for the purpose of furthering the cause of specifically Norwegian drama and theatre-craft, as did the Norske Theater at Bergen, where he had served his apprenticeship as assistant stage-manager. But the new occupation exceeded his powers; his policy left no impression that one can gauge;2 financially, the theatre found itself in continual straits and in the summer of 1862 had to give up altogether. Always addicted to his cup, Ibsen haunted low taverns and was often found huddled in the gutter; with creditors harrying him, he was at his wits' end, until the rare coincidence of receiving an invitation to take part in a musical festival at happy Bergen in 1863 and of enjoying there the friendship and patronage of Bjørnson at his most radiant and winning--a coincidence which produced The Pretenders as directly as a major work of art can in such terms be said to be 'produced'--restored his self-confidence and almost literally set him on his feet again.

____________________
1

'Skaf mig, om blot en månedstid på borg
en kval, en knusende, en kæmpesorg,
så skal jeg synge livets jubel ud
.'
( I, p. 281; Archer-Herford, I, 299.)

2
To be sure, the 'second Christiania period' still remains the most obscure portion of Ibsen's life, but would doubtless be less obscure if of greater significance.

-1-

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A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Prefatory Note xi
  • Chronological List of Ibsen's Writings xii
  • Love's Comedy 1
  • Brand - 1866 34
  • Peer Gynt - 1867 70
  • A Doll's House 104
  • The Wild Duck 147
  • The Master Builder 178
  • Select Bibliography 206
  • Index 209
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