A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

By Brian W. Downs | Go to book overview

BRAND
1866

I

IMMEDIATELY upon Love's Comedy ( 1862) followed The Pretenders (Kongs-emnerne, 1863). Macbeth-like tragedy though the latter may be, it was conceived during more than a lightening of the gloom which had invested the writing of the comedy, indeed during some of the happiest moments that Ibsen was ever to know. But the clouds quickly gathered again, if possible more lowering than before. Some of the blackest, coming up from the political horizon, will engage a more thorough attention later on; besides these, there was still the lack of regular employment,1 the failure to achieve recognition and respect, and the steady accumulation of debt. One more dip of Fortune's wheel, and Ibsen would have become a custom-house officer!

In the nick of time, a syndicate of well-wishers on the one hand and the Norwegian state on the other came to the rescue with subscriptions, grants and a pension. But the Ibsen whom these means enabled to leave Norway for Italy in April 1864 was a badly shaken and humiliated man, dreadfully hurt in some of his tenderest susceptibilities. Had not, for one thing, his notions of government employment virtually implied a readiness to commit what in his eyes was the highest of treasons, defection from the individual's Kald or mission?

The fact of a suffering bordering on mental illness is perhaps2 attested by Ibsen's indecision what literary project to undertake next. He carried out some research into the career of Magnus

____________________
1
Ibsen's contract as director of the MØllergate Theatre terminated on 1 June 1862. He became aesthetic consultant of the rival house, the Christiania Theatre, on 1 January 1863, but the stipend was small and irregular.
2
The impression received from Ibsen's papers is that, as a general rule, on completing one play, he immediately set about the meditating and planning of the matter which was worked into the next of the series. Alternative schemes were possibly considered and rejected, but Ibsen's extreme secretiveness about his projects denies us all real evidence of this. It is just good fortune that we have some documents relative to Ibsen's first months in Italy.

-34-

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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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