A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

By Brian W. Downs | Go to book overview

PEER GYNT
1867

I

WHAT schemes Ibsen was meditating or beginning to elaborate during the first twenty months or so after the completion of Brand in November 1865, we do not know.1 As late as 2 November 18662 he was still undecided what to do next. Nine weeks later, however, he could report3 himself hard at work on what evidently were memoranda and rough drafts of Peer Gynt, which then went forward, first in Rome, then on Ischia and at Sorrento, so speedily that the last piece of manuscript could go to the Copenhagen printer on 18 October 1867. It was published by Messrs Gyldendal on 14 November. Like Brand, it was called, not a drama, but a 'dramatic poem'.

So certain was Ibsen about the plan of the whole4 that he could fair-copy and send off (on 8 August 1867) Acts I, II and III before the last two were written, and it would seem that details, too, were largely exempt from second thoughts;5 for Peer Gynt there exist hardly any of the preliminary notes and variants which, in the case of most of the author's mature works, exhibit the method of trial and error; and we know from Vilhelm Bergsoe's reminiscences6 that that summer Ibsen was ex-

____________________
1
Most likely the projects for Magnus Hejnesen and Julian, which Brand had crowded out.
2
Letter to F. Hegel ( Breve, I, 146).
3
Letter to F. Hegel of 5 January 1867 ( Breve, I, 148).
4
At one time during the work on Peer Gynt, Ibsen made an elaborate scenario, which survives as far as the fifth scene of Act IV. There is a facsimile of two of the pages in Bull F., Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt ( 1947), pp. 65 f. It is said that the African scenes were not in Ibsen's mind from the first (but what that implies precisely is not clear) and that they were added as a form of revenge upon the Egyptologist Lieblein, who had reviewed Brand unsympathetically in Norden ( Koht, I, 346).
5
There is only the one 'Utkast', a complete draft now in The Royal Library, Copenhagen, as is the revised fair copy.
6
This Danish man of science and novelist was spending the summer of 1867 on the island of Ischia also and had daily intercourse with Ibsen, of which he gave a lively account in Henrik Ibsen paa Ischia ( 1907).

-70-

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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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