Ibsen Society of America

Annotated Ibsen Bibliography, 1983-2000, from Ibsen News and Comment

Articles on Ibsen >> | 1983-1988 | 1989-1991 | 1992-1994 | 1995-1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000| 2001 | 2002-2004
Go To >> | 1993 | 1994 |



In 1992 the number of short publications on Ibsen—articles in journals, chapters in books—was thirty-some, the same as in most other recent years. As a group they may not have been any better, but more of them, I thought, were arresting. That may have something to do with the plays most written about: A Doll House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and Rosmersholm. The plays that first made Ibsen famous outside of Scandinavia still seem to be the most controversial ideologically and the most resistant to final explication.

Nobody should write about drama who doesn’t respect the multiminded integrity of the genre. Some of the 1992 essays were so sure of what Ibsen meant and why that they virtually demanded to be disagreed with. Others were casual with plot facts and insensitive to characterization: Haakon Werle’s prosperity was built on Old Ekdal’s ruin. Mrs. Linde is “financially totally independent” and “emotionally sterile.” Pastor Manders “allows the orphanage to burn down.” Still others seemed a little uncertain of their purpose. The non-exigetical essays didn’t have those problems. I especially liked Lise-Lone and Frederick Marker’s splendid description of Ingmar Bergman’s Ibsen productions (1) and Denis W. Salter’s no-nonsense chronicle of “Ibsen in Canada . . . 1910-1980” (2).

The debate over whether A Doll House is or is not feminist continues, arguably approaching the Otto Reinert point of diminishing return.(Is it Ibsen’s greatness or some confusion of mind or craft in him that causes qualified readers to find widely different meaning in the same work?) In an essay in an anthology on family violence, Fredricka Howie argues that to read Doll House simply as Nora’s escape from her doll house is to deny “the essential reality of family dynamics” (3). Nora at the end is neither emancipated nor victimized but a wife who, like George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf changes the rules in a game of “mutual manipulation,” in which neither spouse is wholly responsible for the failed marriage. Recent statistics show that most women who walk away from bad marriages ultimately return. Howie (sociology closing what art leaves open) thinks that Nora may well be one of them.

Ahmad and Gawel, on the other hand, are sure that Doll House was meant to be a feminist play but failed because it presents an “incomplete” version of feminism (4). Those critics (they say) are wrong who argue that Ibsen here is championing everybody’s, and not just women’s right to liberation. His mistake was that he turned Nora into a pseudo-man. “The cash nexis,” “the capitalist alternative,” arrest her progress toward full womanhood and make of her “the woman patriarchy and nineteenth-century capitalism had conspired to construct.” Her personality diminishes during the play. “Emotionally abundant,” the frivolous macaroon-eater of Act I is spontaneous, playful, affectionate, delightfully versatile in play acting for her sexist husband. The Nora who exits has become rigid and “rational,” a potential wage-earner, “just like” Torvald. Significantly, she uses a term from finance when she summons him to their first and last serious discussion: “This is a settling of accounts” (Dette er et opgjör). The authors’ all but explicit conclusion is that a play that “endorses the ideology of bourgeois capitalism,” doesn’t qualify the playwright as a champion of women. This is heresy, but it isn’t silly and it is interesting.

Brian Johnston’s article, “Three Stages of A Doll House” (5) is not, as one might think, about the play’s genesis or its scenography. Nor is it about something as mundane as feminism. The stages refer to the three successive “entities” of “Audience’s image” of the world, the “Dramatic conventions” representing that image, which is the true image that subverts the other two. Together, they allow us a view of the whole twelve-play series as a single evolving dialectic. In every play in the cycle

Ibsen is pushing his method to the point where the theatrical method itself is found wanting and another, higher level of dramatic representation (the next play) is required. The method brings into theatric being an idea of reality and then demonstrates that both the idea of reality and the dramatic method appropriate to it are inadequate. The play most succeeds when it has invalidated itself.

Ibsen “is alerting us not merely to inadequacies in our idea of the world but also to inadequacies in the idea of . . . the way the world aesthetically is represented in the conventional theatre.”

I doubt that this paradoxical formula of “bad” form meaningfully fitting “bad” content and thus becoming artistically “good” will turn out to be a useful way of defining the coherent whole Ibsen said his plays were. One difficulty is the assumption that there are things about Ibsen’s “method” that need a justifying rationale. Among them—these are Johnston’s own examples—are Nora’s “wonderful” (“det vidunderlige”) taking on a new meaning each time she says the word, the symbolic Christmas tree, the ironic role reversals, the counterpointed events, and the change in genre with each new act (first melodrama, then a play about ethics and psychology, finally tragedy). If the technical inadequacies can be justified only as appropriate to a dramatic expose of an inadequate society, one must ask what Johnston’s criteria for dramatic inadequacy are—especially since his own comments on what he calls, with derogatory meaning, “histrionic features,” remind us what a finely shaped and textured play Doll House is. Also, Johnston limits his examples to Doll House and does not illustrate his “evolutionary process” by instancing, in successive plays, inadequate dramatic methods and the social inadequacies they mirror. Finally, the Hegelian paradigm ought to imply a play sequence that moves, in both dramaturgy and social diagnosis, from the simple and obvious to the complex and subtle. Little Eyolf and When We Dead Awaken (say) ought to be more complex and subtle (at least, less inadequate, less self-invalidating) than (say) A Doll House and Rosmersholm. Maybe they are, but it is not obvious that they are. Johnston’s interpretive scheme looks like a desperate attempt to find excuses for features in Ibsen’s drama that he unhappily finds himself unable to admire.

A 1990 issue of a new Norwegian journal was given over to the topic of Ibsen and psychoanalysis, in recognition, perhaps, of the strong impact Freud has had in Norway since he first became known there in the 1920s. One of the contributions (6) deals with a dream Freud reported having in February, 1896, in which this sentence appeared: “Das ist em wahrschaft norekdaler Stil” (“That is truly a norekdalish style”). The author, Per Anthi, a psychoanalyst himself, sees the sentence as a condensation of Freud’s ambivalent relationship with Wilhelm Fliess, who on the day before Freud had his dream had sent him a scientific paper that Freud found hyperbolic both in content and in expression. Anthi finds similarities between Doll House and Wild Duck to account for the formation of the portmanteau word norekdaler in Freud’s dreaming mind. For all we know, he may be right.

Three rewarding analyses of Ghosts appear in booklength studies that deal with other works besides Ibsen’s play and share with it certain themes or motifs. That determines perspectives and emphases in the critical treatment.

The basic premises of Oscar Brownstein’s “phenomenological” Strategies of Drama (7) are that “the goal of art is the creation of experience” and that the experience of drama is an experience not of an idea or a theme or a story or a plot or of a character, but of perception of the moment-to-moment moment movement of the play. The best analysis is a detailed report on the spectator’s “perception shifts” during a performance.

Ghosts is one of thirteen plays analyzed by Brownstein on these premises. (Among the other playwrights are Sophocles, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Brecht, Beckett, Williams, and Pinter). Ghosts, he says, is a play about “penetrating beneath the surface of things” and overcoming “the effect of deception.” That defines the audience’s “stake in the action,” what Brownstein calls the play’s “futurity”—that is, our concern with something beyond the outcome. At the end Ibsen catches us in what Shaw called a “psychic trap:” the play’s denial of Mrs. Alving’s and our own “commitment to understanding.” We see that she is not the liberated woman we thought she was, just as we realize that we have no reason to feel superior to her. Her final, “excruciating” dilemma “breaks through the . . . barrier of the proscenium” and challenges us to make her choice.

This is a wise book, not because imaginative empathy is the best way of experiencing drama or because its audience response approach is new but because of its plausible descriptions of responses. In his Introduction, Brownstein speaks of the “mystery” of “the folk language of the theater” and its superior expressiveness over the language of academic criticism. Yet his book deals with drama as literature, not as performance art and has little about the “erotics” of theater. If there was a “mystery” to begin with, Brownstein goes some way toward demystifying it.

The subject of Leah Hadomi’s book on The Homecoming Theme in Modern Drama is the Prodigal Son story in six modern plays, including Ghosts (8). (Her others are Long Day's Journey, Death of a Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Homecoming, and Buried Child). The story as told in Luke 15:11-32 is Hamodi’s “archi-pattern” (including the “Ur-scene,” the reunion of penitent son and welcoming father). She analyses “analogies and differences between versions of the archi-pattern... as influenced by changes in literary, dramatic, and sociocultural codes.” The result is a spacious book, providing support from new areas for a reading of Ghosts that deals with its dynamics rather than its ideas.

Within this frame, Hadomi’s Ghosts focuses on “the problem of guilt as reflected in the characters’ fidelity to ‘ghosts’ of past people or attitudes.” Her analytical machinery—“Problems,” “Solutions,” “Auxiliaries,” and “Moves”—is forbidding but works. Oswald’s homecoming “is motivated by his physical and mental state;” every one of Regine’s “moves” by her search for a home that will further her economic and social ambition. Parents and substitute parents (Engstrand, Manders), different kinds of “ghosts,” secrets which, when divulged, do not save or redeem, and tension between generations are all parts of a dramatic movement that ends in the irony of Oswald “returned” but doomed and Regine acknowledged but leaving for a “home” as fraudulent as that of her natural father.

Several general themes emerge from the book as a whole. The basic story was secularized over time, with growing emphasis on the psychology of the Prodigal. Ghosts is an example of a non-religious allegory, with God the Father and homecoming Son/Sinner superseded by Father/Bürger and Son/Artist. Archetypal features less common in modern drama but present in Ghosts, include Ibsen’s “agonistic” dialogues; a plot that is double (Oswald and Regine), retrospective, and ambiguous; the dissociation of sin and return and return and forgiveness; the mother as nurturer who is also co-responsible for the son’s torment; and the family “secret” being a “misinterpretation” of the past. Like other modernists, Ibsen transformed myth into literature.

Ghosts and An Enemy of the People are the two Ibsen plays that figure in Barbara Fass Leavy’s oddly titled but substantial and absorbing study of plague as a literary motif, To Blight with Plague (9). Her general argument is that

despite changing conceptions of the “self,” the psychological and moral issues concerning what constitutes human beings . . . serve to unify works of plague literature written over centuries and within the contexts of vastly different ideas of a human relationship to the universe.

Plagues sharpen people’s awareness of the tension between self-survival and responsibility for the survival of others. Focusing the moral consciousness, they exacerbate its dilemmas.

On Ghosts, Levy thinks that the uncertainties about Oswald’s disease allowed Ibsen “to introduce thematic ambiguities ... without falsifying reality,” and to bring together “the themes of physical and mental illness, and personal identity.” The folkloric echoes in the name ‘Alving’ (elves, Elfland, etc.) connect the family to an “alternative world” different from the real world of restrictive social conventions. When Oswald “symbolically mixes up his Eves and his Marys in his mistaken perception of Regine,” his “impasse” is like his father’s, who separated the “pure” and the “impure” woman, marrying the former, going for sex to the latter.

A protagonist’s dilemma of selfishness vs. selflessness becomes the audience’s in Leavy’s comparison of An Enemy of the People with two contemporary American plays about AIDS, William Hoffman’s As Is and Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart. All three deal with the tenuous line dividing “the reformer’s zeal on behalf of humanity from the necessity of preserving an ego that must defend itself against hostile others.” Or, in question form: “Does self-gratification contaminate the fight for the right cause?” Confronted with this “conundrum,” the audience of Enemy can only find Dr. Stockmann an ambivalent character.

A. J. Machiraju finds a strong thematic connection between Ghosts and The Wild Duck (10): both are about the disastrous influence of convention, particularly conventions governing bourgeois marriage, and more particularly still their influence on women as wives and mothers. Since this hardly needs proving in the case of Ghosts, Machiraju’s article is mainly about The Wild Duck. The play does not retract anything in Doll House and Enemy and is not about truth-and-illusion; Hjalmar’s character and not Gregers’s mania is what is “amiss in the Ekdal household.” Both Mrs. Alving and Gina had conventional mothers, both use “survival strategies” in their struggle “to maintain the appearance of a respectable family,” both are capable of love, and each loses her only child. The main difference between the plays is that the wild duck symbol mutes the earlier play’s explicit attack on false idealism. In Ghosts Ibsen felt that he had gone as far in frank discussion of ugly facts about family life as he could without losing his audience altogether. That is probably true, but the article is vulnerable in refusing to see any value at all in the Ekdal marriage and in failing to see Gregers as sharing responsibility for Hedvig’s death. The linkages Machijarul points to are real, but her/his manner of argumentation is both simplistic and strident.

In an article (11) more leftist than Ahmad’s and Gawel’s, and long and abstruse, Wolfgang Sohlich offers what he calls a “materialist, not a theological or psychological, reading of modern allegory,” represented by The Wild Duck. From Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844) comes the idea that late capitalism alienated and commodified workers, from the Frankfurt school the method of deconstructing sociopolitical phenomena for their moral and cultural implications, and from Walter Benjamin perceptions of imagery that bring together diverse activities in symbolic structures expanding to allegory. Sohlich is everywhere politically polemical. His villain is “instrumental reason,” by which people’s vital connections within an older, natural, “organic” order are severed in the interest of pragmatics and profit-making.

Photography in Wild Duck is a metaphor for a random view of reality, at the same time dismembering and static. The camera stands for “market-directed” technology. Its reproduction of “disconnected fragments of a surface reality creates effects that are analogous to the distribution of isolated and repeatable tasks of a complete activity” under industrialism. In the ecopolitical allegory photography represents the objectification of the human subject. Collectors are like photographers; both preserve “bits and pieces rescued from the forgotten context of a distant past.” Hjalmar, a sham photographer but a real collector, joins his father and daughter in the loft, where relations to non-human objects substitute for the genuine human relationships of which they have only an “intuitive remembrance.” The power Gregers has over Hjalmar and Hedvig derives from the link between his idealism and a pre-capitalist but now “forgotten human sentience.” His utopian vision possesses (I read with some surprise) “the grandeur of humanistic ideals” but is bound to fail. Hedvig dies when confronted with the double “violence” of Hjalmar’s denial of the “natural” child, on behalf of culture’s marriage institution, and of Gregers’s demand for the blood sacrifice of the wild duck. She is the victim both of his “allegorization of sentient life,” by which capitalist culture exploits defunct “moral imperatives,” and of the viable but “amoral” imperatives of instrumental reason. So where is the humanistic grandeur?

Sohlich’s article is a product of the intellectual fashion that implicitly assumes a positive correlation between the worth/significance of a work of literature and the number of extra-literary (preferably socioeconomic and political) paradigms a deconstructed version of it can accommodate. That the author-paradigm connection may be an anachronism is irrelevant. For all its historicist bias, this is an ahistorical article. And the gravity of Sohlich’s polemic affects his style: this is not light reading. There are ingenious insights and expansive outlooks in it and thoughtful dedication to Marxist ideals, but the impression that lingers is of pretentiousness skewing a play that is subtle but not about what it is not about.

The Ibsen-and-Psychoanalysis issue of Nytt norsk tidsskrift has, in addition to three articles on the general topic of Ibsen and psychoanalysis (one is Per Anthi’s, reviewed above), a symposium of three scholars on Freud on Rosmersholm. Except for Anthi, all the contributors take if not a hostile then a coolly reserved attitude to psychoanalysis. Five of the essays are in Norwegian; one (Möller’s) is in Danish. I deal first with the two general articles.

According to Björn Killingmo (12), the most important news in psychoanalysis since Freud is the theory that the conflicted infant personality is not a natural given but the result of a shift from a pre-oedipal to an oedipal phase in the child’s development. Freud sought the topography of the psyche, and post-Freudians a process from simpler to more complex forms of psychic life. The pre-oedipal child is dyadic: it seeks contact with “the other.” The oedipal child is triadic: the classical prototype is Oedipus-Laius-Jocasta. As the oedipal child is conflicted, so is the pre-oedipal desirous. Hjalmar Ekdal is pre-oedipal, defining himself in the mirror of other people’s praise and approval. Gregers Werle is oedipal: feeling aggressive toward his father and guilty because he does.

The last sentence in Atle Kittang’s answer (13) to his own question, “Can Psychoanalysis Contribute to Our Understanding of Literature?” is, Yes, but only insofar as it “reveals the tensions in literature between meaning and meaninglessness, desire and suffering, which results in our delight in literature always being a terrifying delight.” Psychoanalytical readings of literature (like all readings) are reductive. Thus, the ending of The Lady from the Sea is neither the happy conclusion of Dr. Wangel’s psychotherapy of his wife nor a reversal of the doctor-patient relationship because of Wangel’s sexual obsession with her. All such meanings are invalidated by the play’s “deeply ironic” ending. Our response is ambivalent because art mimics the tension between our libido and our disciplined selfhood, transforming (according to Leo Bersani) “biological masochism into ironic self-reflection.”

Lis Möller probes deeply but not altogether clearly in her discussion (14) of the problem Freud found in Rosmersholm (in “Einige Charaktertypen aus derpsychoanalytischer Arbeit” (“Some Character Types in Psychoanalytic Practice”), Imago, 1916): how to account for Rebecca West’s rejection of Rosmer’s marriage proposal in Act II. For here, apparently, effect precedes cause; Rebecca turns Rosmer down before she has learned from Kroll that her relationship with Dr. West was incestuous. Möller thinks that relationship remains “subterranean” till the end of the play and that Freud finally buried in a “textual problematic” the challenge he at first had felt it posed to psychoanalytic theory. The “problematic” is the relation of “story” to “discourse.” If I understand Möller here, the relationship between Rebecca and Dr. West is “the story” as Rebecca knows it prior to Kroll’s supplementing it. Her and Rosmer’s talk about their own relationship is ‘‘the discourse.” What triggers Rebecca’s guilt in the proposal scene is not the probable incest with Dr. West (which she doesn’t yet know about), or the sexual relationship itself; it is the threat of the repetition of the past. Because she once took another woman’s place in a man’s (Dr. West’s) life, she cannot bring herself to do so again. Möller’s reading thus confirms Freud’s Rebecca-centered formula for Rosmersholm: “Defeat through success.”

Fredrik Engelstad thinks the reason for Rebecca’s refusal is quite accessible (15). In the wording of Rosmer’s proposal she hears not his love for her but only his need to put behind him his feelings of guilt about his first wife. The methodological issues Engelstad sees involved in Freud’s difficulties with Rosmersholm are the problems that arise at the interface of literary understanding and psychoanalysis. Statements about literary characters are not falsifiable, but that is no reason for not making them. Not empirical verification but economy of means and enlarged understanding are the criteria for the validity of literary analysis.

In a sane and eloquent essay (16) Vigdis Ystad is sceptical of psychoanalysis as a means to understanding literature. Like those who think of Ibsen as a reformer, satirist, prophet, ideologue, etc., psychoanalysts read his texts as symptomatic and not as autotelic. Refusing their reductionism, Ystad sees them as dialectics; beneath their dramatic specifics are enacted universal, irreconcilable conflicts of abstract ideas. “Politics, religion, symbolism, and characterization are . . . primary and essential expression of the dramatic reality which is Ibsen’s real subject . . . We must distinguish between psyche and psychology.” The tragedy in Rosmersholm is that we are so made that a perfect relationship of two people entails interdependence and therefore constraint: one’s self becoming a function of the other’s. We are both “free and shackled, innocent and guilty, in our encounters with others . . . The I-Thou relation is at once self-fulfillment and self-extermination.” In the last scene, just when Rosmer has come over to Rebecca’s side, she has risen to “the Rosmer view of life”—noble, anemic, passive. She dies for him in one last assertion of her will, as he resumes for both of them for one last time his function as a minister of the Church. The scene resolves the conflict but is not a solution.

Three articles on plays outside the group of four:

Rolf Fjelde lists features and qualities shared by Peer Gynt and O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten (17). The most important is the pietà at the end of both plays. (Both could be candidates for Hadomi’s book on homecoming.) The difference between them is that Ibsen’s may be consummated (since Peer’s salvation from the Button-Moulder’s ladle is at least a possibility), while O’Neill’s magnificently enacts the futility of Josie’s proffered resources of forgiveness against Jim Tyrone’s self-damnation and consequent inability to be, like Peer, “born again.”

The defining situations are nearly the same: a wayward, life-weary, world-besotted traveler, having squandered himself on a succession of worthless, predatory women, comes home to the forgiving arms of one who, though not the biological mother, psychologically and spiritually fulfills that role.

And in both cases the return is to a “humble” cabin from a wilderness: Jim’s Broadway and Peer’s Dantesque “dark wood.” The Dante allusions give the article scope.

Fjelde does not press the comparison beyond what the texts can support. His point is not that O’Neill was “influenced” by Ibsen, or that his bleaker ending signifies a shift in the conception of woman-as-redeemer, or that the difference in genre between a poetic fantasy and a realistic play in prose accounts for the different outcomes. All his juxtaposition does is give “additional resonance” to Moon for the Misbegotten by bringing together two major plays that build different “structures” on the shared motif of “forgiveness”—just as the title declares.

I have one small quibble. It is not quite accurate to say that Solvejg’s final song “prefigures the title of the other late Tyrone drama in her metaphor, thrice recurring, of the long life’s day journey.” The phrase that turns up three times in Solvejg’s song is “all the livelong day” (“hele livsdagen lang”). No journey there.

Enjoyably, and, I think, not altogether seriously, Mervyn Nicholson presents the case for considering Jögen Tesman the villain in Hedda Gabler (18). He is he “trickster”—using Hedda for prestige and envy from other males, just as she uses him for status and financial security. Hedda, says Nicholson correctly, needs no defense; she is tragic in her ambivalence. When she burns Lövborg’s manuscript she shows herself to Tesman as “a dangerous liability,” and his casual dismissal of her to Brack just before the end could be his deliberate provocation of her to kill herself. He doesn’t “forget” Hedda in that final scene, as Shaw thought; “He gets rid of her.” Tesman has been underestimated by everyone (including critics) except his aunt, whose product he is. Events prove him stronger and more intelligent than Lövborg. He gets what he wants: a congenial for an impossible wife. Nicholson constructs an intriguing play, but it is not Ibsen’s.

In an article with a tantalizing ending, Leonora Olivia compares Euripides’ Alcestis and When We Dead Awaken in terms of their “representation of gender, power, submission and transcendence” (19)—an ambitious task she does not accomplish. Her most interesting comparison concerns Admetus’ resentment of Alcestis’ leaving him, even though it is he who has asked her to die in his place, and Rubek’s complaint to Maia that when Irene left him his inspiration went too, even though it was he who sent her away. The women in both plays are “signifiers” for men. “We might ask: are Euripides and Ibsen exposing this male-centered construction of ‘woman’ so that it might be critiqued, or are they perpetuating the claim that the projection of ‘woman’ from the male imagination is an accurate one? These important questions must be addressed in a future study.” One hopes they will be; here they only tease.

Otto Reinert
The University of Washington


1. Lise-Lone and Frederick J. Marker, “The Essence of Ibsen,” “To Begin Again.” In Ingmar Bergman: A Life in the Theatre, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 185-290.

2. Denis W. Salter, “Ibsen in Canada: The Critical Reception, 1910-1980.” In Jörn Carlsen and Bengt Streijffert, eds. Canada and the Nordic Countries. Lund, Sweden: Lund University Press, 1988, pp. 285-97.

3. Fredricka Howie, “Victorian Fun and Games in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.” In Sara Munson Deats and Lagretta Tallent Lenker, eds., The Aching Heart: Family Violence in Life and Literature. New York: Plenum, 1991, pp. 165-74.

4. Shaffiuddin Ahmad and Angela Gawel, “The Politics of Money: Incomplete Feminism in A Doll House,” Dalhousie Review 70 (1990): 170-90.

5. Brian Johnston, “The Three Stages of A Doll House,” Comparative Drama 25 (1991-92):3 11-28.

6. Per R. Anthi, “Freud’s dröm om Nora og Ekdal: En analyse” (“Freud’s Dream about Nora and Ekdal. An Analysis”), Nytt norsk tidsskrift 7 (1990):22-35.

7 . Oscar Lee Brownstein, Strategies of Drama: The Experience of Form.
New York: Greenwood, 1991. Pp. 29-36, 133-37, 157.

8. Leah Hadomi, “Double Plot of the Returning Son and Daughter: Ghosts.” In The Homecoming Theme in Modern Drama: the Return of the Prodigal. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992, pp. 21-33.

9. Barbara Fass Leavy, “Ibsen’s Ghosts and the Ghosts of Ibsen.” In To Blight with Plague. New York: New York University Press, 1992, pp. 83-125.

10. A. F. Machiraju, “Ideals and Victims: Ibsen’s Concerns in Ghosts and The Wild Duck,” Modern Language Review 87 (1992):134-42.

11. Wolfgang, Sohlich, “Allegory in the Technological Age: a Case Study of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 6 (1992):99-118.

12. Björn Killingmo, “Psykoanalysen igar og idag. Livslögnmotivet i nytt lys” (“Psychoanalysis Yesterday and Today. New Light on the Life-lie Motif’), Nytt norsk tidsskrift 7 (1990):4-13.

13. Atle Kittang, “Kan psykoanalysen bidra til var forstaing av Diktkunst?” (“Can Psychoanalysis Contribute to Our Understanding of Literature?”), Nytt norsk tidssrift 7 (1990):14-21.

14. Lis Möller, “Det analytiske teater: Freud og Ibsen” (“The Analytical Theater: Freud and Ibsen”), Nytt norsk tidsskift 7 (1990):40-49.

15. Fredrik Engelstad, “Freud som litteraturkritiker?” (“Freud as Literary Critic?”), Nytt norsk tidsskrift 7 (1990):49-53.

16. Vigdis Ystad, “Rosmersholm og psykoanalysen” (“Rosmersholm and Psychoanalysis”), Nytt norsk tidsskrift 7 (1990):54-58.

17. Rolf Fjelde, “Structures of Forgiveness: the Endings of A Moon for the Misbegotten and Ibsen’s Peer Gynt” in Haiping Liu and Lowell Swortzell, eds., O’Neill in China: An International Centenary Celebration. New York: Greenwood, 1992, pp. 51-57.

18. Mervyn Nicholson, “L’Homme Fatal in Hedda Gabler,” Modern Drama 35 (1992):365-77.

19. Leonora Olivia, “The Presence of the Absent,” Pacific Coast Philology 26 (1991):1-58.



Over the ten years I have been keeping count, the total number of annual Ibsen entries in the bibliographies published in PMLA and Modern Drama has almost never been less than thirty-five. In 1993, it was eighteen, including a few that actually appeared before. Whatever this drop of almost fifty percent means (perhaps nothing), it is too soon to speak of a trend. In 1993, as during most of the recent past, the subjects of the articles were nearly exclusively the late prose plays.

I begin with feminist essays. Their number stays high year after year; the Ibsen they write about is mainly the man who “got it” before his male contemporaries. A. Velissariou (1) attacks the “pseudo-medieval,” male-specific judgment that Beata Rosmer, Rebecca West, Ellida and Hilda Wangel, Hedda Gabler, and Aline Solness are women in whom the social and psychological conflate with the “morally reprehensible,” certifying them as “abnormal” by the norms of male discourse on “female biology-as-mental destiny.” Velissariou sees Ibsen using mental illness “as a metaphor for female revolt” against the roles imposed upon women. Society and not biology creates “hysterical” women. Beata is not oversexed; Rosmer is undersexed. Rebecca’s suicide enacts Brendel’s talk about her self-mutilation. And so on. The general argument here is sound, but not all the details of interpretation seem so. One passage comes close to implying that Aline Solness really is “mad,” and nothing is said about the ironic taming of Ellida into a proper Hausfrau, which would have supported Velissariou’s main argument. And because the new specifics only confirm what by now has become aging orthodoxy, the article, for all its coverage, seems longer than necessary.

Ross Shideler (2) reads Hedda Gabler and Strindberg’s Dödsdansen as post-Darwinian plays that challenge belief in divine and mortal fathers and exemplify male playwrights’ efforts to stage the struggle of the patriarchal family to come to terms with women’s new roles. With her pistol icon, Hedda is hardly a “feminist” heroine, but she does “personify the problematizing of ‘femininity’ in a patriarchy.” The problem with the article is that in spite of the title—“The Theatrical Prison”—there is no prison imagery in the play. Hedda feels trapped in middle-class domesticity and sometimes expresses her frustration in speech and gesture, but neither stage directions nor dialogue includes explicit prison imagery. That leaves the essay with a title that either is inaccurate or refers to a metaphor of Shideler’s rather than Ibsen’s. On the other hand, prison imagery is indeed prominent in Dödsdansen, and Shideler deals with it.

The value of Robin Young’s study of Ibsen’s revisions in Rosmersholm (3) lies as much in the light it throws on Ibsen’s creative process as in its feminist thematic, unassailable though the latter is. The play, writes Young, is particularly well suited for “genetic” study because “the draft material . . . is [for Ibsen] unusually complete.” The radical revision, resulting in “what was virtually a new play,” shifted “the focus . . . from details of the political process to the unchanging drives which underlie it.” Young finds the change in Ibsen’s idea of his play recorded in the note he wrote on a slip of paper: “She is an intriguer and she loves him. She wants to become his wife and unwaveringly pursues that goal. Then he discovers what she’s been doing, and she openly admits it. Then there is no more happiness in life possible for him. The demonic [Young adds “in him”] is aroused by pain and bitterness. He wants to die, and she is to die with him. She does.” Ibsen’s new insight into Rebecca’s character marks the first appearance of woman’s sexual passion in Ibsen and in modern drama. (Young recognizes that Hjørdis in The Vikings at Helgeland and Helena in Emperor and Galilean anticipate Rebecca). “Solveig, Agnes, Nora, and Gina are all in different ways victims, trapped within their roles, lacking emotional and sexual autonomy. Rebecca is different. And in the scale and intensity of that difference lay the seeds of the dramatic revolution that was to follow.” Rosmersholm identifies the moment when the bourgeois woman came into the fulness of ethical, psychological, and physiological being in modern drama. While this amounts to less than a fact in the history of drama, it is a resonant suggestion, supported by the use Young makes of Ibsen’s note. And the note is a fact.

With the three remaining articles I label “feminist,” we move even farther away from polemics. John Lingard’s essay (4) makes subtle distinctions in The Lady from the Sea between overt/spoken and covert/unspoken language, between rational consciousness and the irrational unconscious, between realistic downstage and symbolic upstage, between a horizontal and progressive succession of conflicting “signs” (“tegn imot tegn”), as in Emperor and Galilean, and vertical, spatial layering of meanings, as in The Lady from the Sea. (Lingard acknowledges his debt to James McFarlane’s discussion of the sign-against-sign motif in an essay first published in Contemporary Approaches to Ibsen, 1966.) The article gains interest by the accompanying black-and-white reproductions of Norwegian naturalist-symbolist paintings of the late nineteenth century, all of them of human figures in a landscape. But Lingard weakens his analysis by concluding that the deepest “uncanniness” (detfrufulle, das Unheimliche) in The Lady from the Sea is the imagistic link between the sea, the Stranger, Ellida’s father (drowned, in the draft version, and thus of less relevance to Lingard’s point in the final version), and death. It makes sense to say that the incest motif explains Ellida’s sexual rejection of Wangel, a substitute father, but Lingard’s use of the “redundant” reference to the town of Bergen, of the fact that the Black Death reached Norway on an English ship in Bergen harbor in 1349, and of a modern Norwegian historian’s calling the plague a blessing in disguise, a kind of “deliverance” of the country from overpopulation (one third of the population died!), leaves his argument finally hanging by a thin and fragile thread. But misplaced historicism should not distract us from Lingard’s skillful demonstration of interlocking, different kinds of “tensions” among signs in the play.

Evert Sprinchorn (5) establishes in Hedda Gabler an elaborate scheme of significant stage space, adding meaning to what can be articulated in speech (an extension of Northam’s well-known analysis). For example, in act one, the windows at stage left flood the Tesman living room with light; not so the dark-tiled stove at stage right. In elaboration, Sprinchorn suggests that stage left represents hedonism, the Viking ethos, freedom, courage, nature, and reality; while stage right represents domestication, propriety, hypocrisy, convention, civilization, and artifice. His dichotomous scheme takes him to the chair in which Hedda sits in act four, with Brack behind her; it “stands for middle-class conventionality and comfort, and the stove is the home of the imps and demons bred by thwarted instincts and desires.” If you insist. But the pretentious banality is a bore.

Errol Durbach (6) takes on recent women critics of A Doll House: Sandra Saari (1988), who faults Ibsen for not realizing his original intent of illustrating the operation in modern society of the different moral laws for women and men; Joan Templeton (1989), who sees Nora as defying masculine law in the name of love; and Elaine Hoffman Baruch (1980), who warns feminists against the dangers of letting a celebration of Nora’s triumphant individualism slide into celebrating “the ugly narcissism of the ‘Me’ generation.” Durbach sees the play’s ending as ambivalent and spells out its Hegelian implication: A Doll House is a tragedy because no reconciliation is possible between a husband and a wife who each is both right and wrong. Like Antigone, Nora “pays a dreadful price for her principles,” but because her choice is secular and not religious, and thus without Antigone’s comfort of knowing she is right, she becomes “an Antigone manquée.” Feminism believes that there are remedies for “gender-based inequities,” while tragedy contemplates the existentially “irremediable in human experience.” Therefore, Durbach concludes, “to call Nora ‘feminist tragedienne’ is to play with oxymoron and paradox.” Nevertheless, until the miraculous moment when state law becomes God’s law, he is willing to keep on calling her that. As well he may.

The thesis of Sandra Hardy (7), which is not so much feminist as it is multiculturalist, is that Rebecca West’s ethnic identity as a “Lapp” (today considered an obsolete and politically suspect term for “Sami”) is crucial to understanding her and her dramatic function. Her independence, candor, emotional intensity, and susceptibility to superstition and magic are the products of her ethnic origin. As a Lapp, she is not subject to conventionally Christian moralistic censure. Much of Hardy’s essay is in the form of a director’s notes to the actor playing Rebecca. The notes are often performance-wise, but they are not all relevant to ethnicity or to the larger economic and political issues we associate with “the third world.” Hardy’s comments on name symbolism are sometimes merely silly, e.g., “Rosmer” equals “mer rose” (more praise), “Mortensgaard” comes from “mort,” a fish, and her Sami ethnology sometimes carries overtones of majority stereotypes. Most damaging of all: there is no unequivocal evidence in the play that Rebecca is a Lapp. Not everyone from Finnmark is.

Next come two important articles on larger issues of history and theory.

Charles Lyons (8) relates Sam Shepard’s plays, primarily Buried Child and The Curse of the Starving Class, to the Ibsen tradition in modern drama, which he defines as “material realism” embedding a retrospective plot that dramatizes causation (a nineteenth-century obsession). Strindberg, Chekhov, and O’Neill have also left their distinctive traces on Shepard, but Ibsen is the main model (presumably as the tradition’s “father”). Lyons’s point is Shepard’s ironic relation to this tradition; Shepard fragments Ibsen’s narrative cohesiveness by “significant disjunctions, interstices, and inconsistencies,” subverting Ibsen’s structures in endings that are enigmatic, problematic, and unresolved. He uses the familiar Ibsen motifs—the visitor from the past, Kindermord, the absent or inadequate father, past sexual guilt, a problematic son—to foreground their arbitrariness and “artifice.” Shepard’s “postmodernist” use of this dramatic heritage makes his art “more conventional than archetypal, more self conscious than unconscious, more public than private, more aesthetic than psychological, more theatrical than autobiographical.” The essay opens long and stimulating historical perspectives. Much of what Lyons wrote about the mythic paradigms of Ibsen’s actions in his Henrik Ibsen: The Divided Consciousness (1972) usefully turns up in the appropriate places here.

Erik Østerud (9) applies Michael Fried’s Diderot-inspired distinction between “absorption” and “theatricality” in painting to the difference between unselfconscious fascination and belief (something like Einlebung, perfect empathy, suspension of disbelief) on the part of an observer in the play, and the attractive and impressive, but false, impersonation by a performer conscious of being observed. The Wild Duck is his example, and Hjalmar and Hedvig, respectively, are his observed and observer. The self-conscious Hjalmar differs from the unselfconscious observed figure in the eighteenth-century paintings Diderot wrote about, in which the viewer’s absorption in the painting depended on the unawareness of the observed figure that he/she was being observed. In theatricalist plays, the playgoer’s sense of the dramatic lies in his/her awareness of the distinction between what the “absorbed” observer on stage (Hedvig) sees and what the “theatricalist” observed (Hjalmar) wants her to see. The posturing theatricalist character is theatricalist to the extent that he is conscious of his own “spectacularity”—of being seen. Østerud’s main example is the exchange early in act two between father and daughter on Hjalmar’s hair; is it curly or wavy? At the end of the little scene, Hjalmar is simultaneously in front of and behind the camera, because he has replaced Hedvig, the “photographer” at the beginning of the scene, for failing to see what he wants her to see. Hjalmar’s conscious posing is like that of the photographed person in the early age of photography, forced by primitive technology to remain absolutely still during the long exposure time. Life in The Wild Duck “unfolds as a long succession of spectacular stagings or tableaux, in which the character’s visual confrontations and conflicts may be described as an indeterminate number of clashes between the poser’s exhibition of him/herself and the observing viewer’s interpretation of the pose.” Thus Gregers “sees” what Werle does not want him to “see.” The resulting “visual indeterminancy or ambiguity” on the part of both observer and observed “has to do with the unconscious.” The conflict is between “to see” and “to appear” (the pithier distinction in the Norwegian original is between “å se” and “å se ut”). This “double optics,” shuffling between the long views of tragedy and the myopia of comedy, has moral significance. The late Ibsen protagonist is “an escapist, a play-actor, who poses a would-be reality” that looks like real life, but is actually an empty form. In being anti-theatricalist, Diderot, writes Østerud, “was on Ibsen’s road.” His theory furthered the development of bourgeois domesticity as a popular subject both for painting and for the theatre. Ibsen the skeptic unmasked the sham reality of the bourgeois home, which Hedvig could not penetrate. And because she is trusting and naive, her death affects us as a harrowing “mishap” (ulykke), and not as tragedy; in The Wild Duck there is no anagnorisis for anyone. The play initiates Ibsen’s later use of the Plato-Aristotle dialectic between the theoria that sees Truth through appearances, and the aletheia, in which “hiddenness and covering” (in English in Østerud’s original) are inseparable in a “transit” (English in the original) relationship. Ibsen the moralist/reformer is the Platonist, dialectically engaging his psychologist/artist Aristotelian other self, to whom the veil and the mask are starting points for the act of unveiling/unmasking that Ibsen wants us to see. “The visually ambiguous became his constant field of investigation.” There are details of interpretation that one may question in Østerud’s essay (the studio as a camera obscura, Gina’s role in the illusionist-photographer’s home), but they hardly matter. The essay brings new angles of vision (literally) on the modality of Ibsen’s dramatic art and sharpens our understanding of the inner workings of his domestic moralities and of their relationship to theories of stage perception and to cultural history. It is an original study that will last. In another article on a related subject (10), Østerud presents Ibsen as an early exemplar of the postmodernist commitment both to the fetishized image and to distrust of its reality. Plato’s cave has become a labyrinth, in which we search in vain for the reality behind the simulacra and contentedly indulge ourselves in “free surfing” among illusionistic props. Ibsen was “a Freudian before Freud, a visualist modernist before visuality had become quite modern.”

Three readings of single plays follow.

There is not much that is new in Harold C. Knutson’s lively and sensible article (11), a variant on Thomas Van Laan’s 1986 demonstration (acknowledged by Knutson) that An Enemy of the People is a generically complex play and Dr. Stockmann an ambiguous character. The question Knutson asks is how Ibsen succeeds in making such a reactionary, imprudent, hotheaded, unscientific, and selfish man into an effective and likeable protagonist. The example of Molière’s Alceste provides part of the answer. Like Molière, Ibsen satirized his satirist, and there is something of Bergson’s “mechanical man” about both title characters that accounts for their comic effect. There is no quarreling with Knutson’s Stockmann as “a complex comic figure fitting perfectly into the consistent ludic performance of the play,” but he might have shared with us the feeling that he is more likeable than Alceste.

John Astington has written a small but suggestive footnote to The Wild Duck (12). In an early sixteenth-century woodcut illustrating Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica, Logic, with two dogs, Veritas and Falsitas, pursues an equally allegorical hare, Problema. It is unlikely that Ibsen knew the emblematic tradition directly, but its metaphorical descendants live on in Gregers’s words about himself as “a clever dog” and in the force of Hedvig’s reaction to his words. We may therefore think of the action of The Wild Duck as Gregers-as-Falsitas, playing his self chosen role as Veritas, pursuing a hare (the “problem” of the Ekdal manage) that escapes him. Connected to this is the image of Death and the Maiden. Gregers’s visionary language fascinates Hedvig, with fateful consequences. It is harder to follow Astington when he writes, pace Mary McCarthy, that Ibsen does not mock his characters for their symbolizing. Gregers, it seems to me, is a perfect example of what McCarthy was talking about.

George Schoolfield’s essay (13) is a general exegesis of a scene between Irene and Rubek in act two of When We Dead Awaken, with particular attention to a passage in which Rubek and Irene recall life on the Taunitzer See and talk about flamingoes and swans, Lohengrin, and sunrise on the mountain peaks. Schoolfield is knowledgeable and resourceful in his scrupulously detailed gloss on the many different kinds of allusions in the passage (botanical, ornithological, literary), but he is not very specific on the dramatic significance of the textual minutiae he explicates. A slight sense of much ado and hardly any sense of undue neglect of the passage attend his summing up: “The little lyric interlude . . . has been revelatory not only about Ibsen’s skill at deploying familiar images of the fin de siècle (and of his own work) but also of central problems in the relationship between Rubek and Irene.” The scene, anticipating the final Liebestod (although Schoolfield does not use that word) does indeed have “an operatic quality.”

Two essays fall outside groupings.

Gerda Erichsen Moter does belated justice to the first German translator of Peer Gynt in a pleasant and welcome article (14). Ludwig Passarge (1825-1912) had a respectable if unremarkable career as a judge in Konigsberg. He was a passionate traveler who loved Norway and the Norwegians. His writings were mainly travelogues, autobiographies, and translations. He translated Bjørnson as well as Ibsen. Erichsen maintains that her subject is the translator rather than his translations, but she finds room for documenting convincingly her contention that Passarge’s second translation of Peer Gynt (1887) was an improvement over his first (1881).

Three associates of the Norwegian Computing Centre for the Humanities (NCCH) report on their new “lemmatized, homograph-separated concordance that covers all of Ibsen’s major works” and has been “edited according to very high standards” (15). Their technical description of what is obviously an instantly indispensable new tool for Ibsen students has the reasserting ring of certified expertise. The team’s next project is “a hypermedia edition of [Ibsen’s] plays and poems,” with “text, still pictures, music, and video sequences.” We can hardly wait.

I add some unfashionable general reflections prompted by some (but not all) recent Ibsen articles (not merely those reviewed above). The playwright is important as thinker and miner of souls only to the extent that his plays are art. To read them as ideology is to assume that what the art polemically communicates is all that counts. Blinkered by their own ideological commitments, such readers not only cannot but will not claim disinterestedness. To them, ambiguity is status-quoism, and reading amounts to an encounter with what they accept or reject. Their Ibsen is a champion of causes, a writer of opinions, engaged in teaching his people to think correct thoughts. They debate one another on who has got Ibsen’s ideology right and how socially valuable the ideology is. But Ibsen’s Nora isn’t right or wrong; she is a woman making a hard choice. There is a plague on both political houses in Rosmersholm. Ellida and Hilda Wangel and Solness are believable without being diagnosed psychological cases. The same incontrovertible text contains an indeterminate number of significant configurations of elements, each configuration yielding a different meaning-of-the-whole. The readers Ibsen needs are not those who look for the one right meaning among all the wrong ones, but negatively capable readers who enjoy being in doubt and uncertainty and who see different ways of reading the play and different meanings in it, not all of them possible, some of them incompatible or contradictory, none of them “true,” but some of them revealing, exciting, and good to know about.

Otto Reinert
University of Washington


(1) A. Velissariou, “Mental Illness and the Problem of Female Identity in Ibsen,” Madness in Drama (in the series Themes in Drama), ed. James Redmond (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993), 65-92.

(2) Ross Shideler, “The Theatrical Prison in Hedda Gabler and Dodsdansen,” Fin(s) de Siécle in Scandinavian Perspective, ed. Faith Ingwersen et. al (Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1993), 78-90.

(3) Robin Young, “Vision and Revision in the Making of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm,” Scandinavica 32 (May 1993), 47-68.

(4) John Lingard, “The Conflict of Signs in Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea,” Dalhousie Review 72 (Fall 1992), 342-60.

(5) Evert Sprinchorn, “The Unspoken Text in Hedda Gabler,” Modem Drama 36 (September 1993), 353-67.

(6) Errol Durbach, “Nora as Antigone: The Feminist Tragedienne and Social Legality,” Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 5 (1992), 29-41.

(7) Sandra Hardy, “The Third World and Ibsen: Production Perspectives in Rosmersholm,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 7 (Spring 1993), 47-62.

(8) Charles Lyons, “Shepard’s Family Trilogy and the Conventions of Modern Realism,” Rereading Shepard: Contemporary Critical Essays on the Plays of Sam Shepard, ed. Leonard Wilcox (New York: St. Martin’s, 1993), 115-30.

(9) Erik Østerud, “Henrik Ibsens teatermaske: tablå, absorpsjon og teatralitet i Vildanden,” Edda (1993), 242-60. Fried’s book is Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

(10) Erik Østerud, “Ibsen i Platons hule,” Samtiden (1993), 20-27.

(11) Harold C. Knutson, “An Enemy of the People: Ibsen’s Reluctant Comedy,” Comparative Drama 27 (1993), 159-75.

(12) John H. Astington, “The Clever Dog and the Problematic Hare,” Modem Drama 36 (December 1993), 578-81.

(13) George Schoolfield, “A Neglected Passage in Når vi døde vågner,” in (2) above, 91-111.

(14) Gerda Erichsen Moter, “Ludwig Passarge: der erste Ubersetzer von Ibsens Peer Gynt,” Zeitschriftffir Germanistik 1 (1991), 544-54.

(15) Knut Hofland, Kjell Morland, Espen Smith, “The Ibsen Project: Ibsen Concordance and Peer Gynt in Hypermedia,” Literary and Linguistic Computing: Journal of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing 8 (1993), 47-51.



Volume 7 of Contemporary Approaches to Ibsen, published in 1991, was included in the MLA and Modern Drama bibliographies in 1994, and was thus excluded from my most recent annual reviews (for 1991-93). The present review covers both this volume and its successor, the 1994 Contemporary Approaches (volume 8), the former with 19, the latter with 13 essays. In addition, there were in 1994 eleven articles on Ibsen in other journals. Subtracting the 19 essays in volume 7 of Contemporary Approaches from the total of 43 candidates for review this year, there remain 24 items that appeared in 1994; thus, the drop in numbers that I noticed last year continues. This may, of course, signify nothing, and my concern that it may is offset by the generally high quality of the articles. Most of them are stylistically lean, cogent in argumentation, bring forth fresh perspectives on old issues, and engage them thoughtfully and openmindedly. Many of the articles deal with socio-political theory—evidence that the plays are surviving changes in intellectual fashions. I am also pleased that fewer and fewer writers link Ibsen’s name with the titles of his plays in the titles of their articles. Perhaps we still need to have “Ibsen’s Burial Mound” and “Ibsen’s Olaf Liljekrans,” or even “Ibsen’s Lady Inger/Love's Comedy,” but surely not “Ibsen’s Peer Gynt/Doll House/Hedda Gabler,” and so on. The practice belittles Ibsen’s stature and insinuates the reader’s ignorance.

Most of the articles reviewed here fall into one of two groups. The first relates Ibsen’s plays to what may be broadly called postmodernism; the second deals with stagecraft, media comparisons, and stage history. A few articles analyze plays apart from any single topical or ideological context.

What Ibsen achieved in his twelve-play realistic “cycle” (Brian Johnston tells us again) was a reconstruction of “contemporary bourgeois life” that could “express the numinous life of the archetypal realm” (1). Ibsen’s dramatic language in these plays is a counter-discourse” because it can alienate us (in something like Brecht’s sense) from “the monstrous strangeness of what we have made of life.” Ibsen was “recreating modern Norway as an occult or archetype-filled space.” The inspiriting of the present by the mythical past was his “major triumph as a dramatist.”

In a tribute to Johnston’s Ibsen Cycle on the occasion of its republication in a revised edition, Gerald Dugan paraphrases Johnston’s main ideas (2). The demonstration of the Hegelian analogues in Ibsen’s last twelve plays, with the human spirit moving through “a dialectical conflict to ‘higher’ and freer phases” of civilization is, says, Dugan, quite simply, “the most audacious piece of dramatic criticism written in America since Eric Bentley’s The Playwright as Thinker, and the most original piece of Ibsen criticism since Bernard Shaw’s The Quintessence of Ibsenism.” Indeed, so audacious and original was Johnston that he turned Ibsen, as Dugan sees it, into an evolutionary optimist. In my own renewed encounter with The Ibsen Cycle under Dugan’s guidance, I once again admired Johnston’s learning and the critical imagination evident in his allusions, analogues, and associations, but I was also left wondering how deliberate Johnston takes Ibsen’s use of Hegel to be, how conscious Ibsen was that his last twelve plays coherently tracked (if they do) a single spiritual ascent, and how plausible is it that a radical sceptic would shackle himself to a single system of philosophized cultural history. And wondering, too, whether Johnston had to write in a manner quite so rapturously insistent.

Paul Baxter has written a corrective to Johnston, arguing, on evidence, that Ibsen learned from Hegel more about dramaturgy than about Weltanschauung (3). For one thing, Ibsen did not, like Hegel, give priority to the state over the individual, but sought to expose society’s false claims to truth against the individual’s thought and feeling.

Anatoly Lunacharsky (1875-1933) was a Bolshevik critic, whose article on Ibsen (published in St. Petersburg in 1907) has been very readably translated and edited by Edward Braun (4). Lunarcharsky sees Ibsen as “the last bourgeois” because he gradually came to lose faith in the social order of “liberal-democratic capitalism” that he had earlier criticized in the expectation that it could be reformed or reform itself. The ending of Brand, he says, is typical of “bourgeois-idealist pessimism,” and that of Peer Gynt reassures the petite bourgeoisie that there is forgiveness even for someone as “swinish” as Peer. By the time of The Wild Duck, Ibsen had come to despair of the usefulness of telling hard truths to philistines and had discovered its high cost to the most sensitive and vulnerable. At the end, Ibsen left Ibsenism to the Ibsenites, endorsing, in John Gabriel Borkman, Erhart’s and Mrs. Wilton’s hedonistic nihilism, and, in When We Dead Awaken, staging a mystical and “terrifying” Epilogue. Ibsen’s tragedy as man and as artist, Lunarcharsky concludes, was that he found it necessary to give up on individualism without being able to believe in collectivism. Lunacharsky’s ideological purity is disarming.

Charles R. Lyons questions post-modernists’ charge that modernist realism produced texts that were “complicit in the ideology they attack” and that they “reproduce the very orthodoxy's they ‘interrogate’”(5). Whether it is “neo-conservative” (Habermas), or whether it takes non-hegemonic and non-totalizing delight in “the concatenation of competing voices” (Lyotard), postmodernism has devalued Ibsen’s plays: “to read [them] as social documents consigns them to the failure of rationalism; to see them as manifestations of the subjective relegates them to an irrelevant solipsism.” To rescue them, Lyons seeks to “re-historicize” them by showing that the “subjective sexual paradigm” in Ibsen “subsumes” their liberal-rational critique of capitalism. Only thus can we read and stage Ibsen with a good, progressive, and theory-competent conscience.

The paradigm resembles that in James Hurt’s Catiline’s Dream (1972): a man leaves an erotic woman for an idealistic “project,” has a relationship with an asexual, i.e., non-threatening woman, fails his project (or it fails him), returns to the erotic woman or her substitute, and ends in a new renunciation that entails actual or virtual suicide. Through all the changing modes and forms of his drama, Ibsen kept using this “same idiosyncratic, subjective, sexually based relational structure.” To Lyons, Ibsen’s late-play “realism” cannot be satisfactorily contained either by old-fashioned liberalism (i.e., modernism), or by the radical epistemological scepticism of today’s “fluid” post-modernisms. It is too bad that with all its sophisticated substance Lyons’ prose so often comes between his meaning and his reader. Queued-up prepositional phrases waiting their turn involute and retard the completion of the sense. The result is far from being nonsense, but getting through to the sense isn’t much fun.

Michael Goldman, in a weighty and incisive essay, relates Hedvig’s and Eyolf’s deaths to current media obsession with child abuse (6). Our interest “reflects a cultural urge” to confront child abuse as an issue of poststructural “philosophical undecidability.” We no longer ask, “what happened?,” but rather “did it happen?”. The nineteenth century thought of the French Revolution as an event that, however complex, could be accounted for by secular historiography working with principles of rational causality. Ibsen and Yeats were pioneers in regarding such confidence with scepticism. Yeats’ “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” is a question about undecidability and is asked in a poem about “schoolchildren.” Seeing is central to both The Wild Duck and Little Eyolf. We see the attic but not the wild duck in the attic, and the child Hedvig sees more than her photographer parents. With Rita Allmers, we see the drowned child’s eyes, at once his wound and his accusatory gaze at the grownup world. Like Gregers Werle, Alfred Allmers dedicates himself to a project whose achievement will make up for his crippling childhood and his uncertainty about his sexual identity. The Allmers decision at the end to dedicate themselves to a cause of social justice is “a product of their guilt and rage, a response to abuse both suffered and inflicted.” When we last see them, they do not look upward but stare—“as Eyolf stares, as we in the audience stare—straight ahead.” Goldman finds little hope in that final twilight tableau. Near the end of his essay, Goldman relates the abused children in Blake, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Rimbaud, Buchner; the questionable Charles Dodgson-Alice Liddell relationship; and Derrida’s “always already” (everything we experience has happened before) to Ibsen’s dramatized childhood traumas. Transcending the certainties of the age, they leap into modes of conscience and consciousness painfully familiar to us.

Philosophically compatible with Goldman’s is William Demarest’s essay (7) on Ibsen’s uncanny way of anticipating in bourgeois realistic drama current notions about the unreliability of empiricism and rationalism—specifically, on Ibsen as class theorist. Demarest takes up where Robert Brustein left off in a 1978 article published in Theatre; in The Master Builder, Ibsen queries the premises of theatrical naturalism (plausibility, rationality, causality, unambiguous outcome). The cracked chimney in Aline’s old family home should have been the cause of the ire that started Solness on his rise—only it wasn’t. Like Ibsen in 1892, modern chaos theorists believe in “the butterfly effect”—that “a butterfly fluttering in China affects the weather in Louisiana”—and, also like Ibsen, quantum physicists work with the concept of “unpredictable determinism.” Where events are random, the most we can do is assert probabilities. What that kiss in Lysanger ten years ago has come to mean to the adult Hilda cannot be posited as the inevitable consequence of a possibly quite trivial social moment. Chaos drama impinges on freedom of the will: “No one in Ibsen’s drama, or presumably in the real world, is either completely free/responsible or completely determined/guiltless.” The theory views reality as neither neo-Newtonian orderly, knowable, predictable—nor its opposite, but as an experimental explanation in a scientific realm that the critical and artistic community—at least in part responsible for inspiring the new view—would do well to embrace and pursue on its own.” Demarest could have taken his argument further and claimed that the cracked chimney did more than contribute to the climate in which chaos theory currently flourishes—that it proved the theory before its time.

Between Lunarcharsky and Demarest Ibsen did not leave us moderns much to believe in: Lunarcharsky has him giving up on liberal democratic capitalism; Demarest, on belief in a world of unalterable laws accessible to rational predictions.

Vigdis Ystad’s argument about Ibsen as existentialist is hardly postmodernist (8), although there are affinities. Her Ibsen is a writer for whom “the clash of ability and aspiration” (from Ibsen’s Preface to the Collected Works, 1898), was the tragic “axiom” of existence. Ibsen’s idea that “drama is synonymous with an abstract . . . battle of ideas bound to the interactive, theatrical surface” is a paradox: “Every drama and each performance is bound in relation to an experience of liberty.” Ystad uses the mistaken identity motif as illustration of the way that the appearance/reality theme is manifest in the plays from Catiline to The Vikings at Helgeland. In her paraphrase, “man may freely choose his role—but in such a way that the choice of role is really a choice of idea and thereby a choice of identity.” The Burial Mound is the most striking example.

From a different direction, Frode Helland explores nearly the same area (9). His exemplum of Ibsen’s postmodernism is Hedda Gabler, which is a play about “the experience of the ‘impossibility’ of experience.” The many offstage events—the honeymoon, the scene at the pier, Brack’s party, Løvborg’s debauch, Aunt Rina’s death, Hedda’s suicide—contribute to that theme. The irony that attaches to all the characters, including the “good” Aunt Julie, is incompatible both with Daniel Haakonsen’s tragedy-of-fate interpretation and with Walter Benjamin’s definition of plays within plays (here, the incident of the hat on the chair, Hedda’s mocking mimicries of Tesman) as expressing “the indeterminacy of infinite reflexivity.” Rather, such scenes anticipate the “modernist emphasis on the autonomy and distance of art . . . and amounts to modernism’s demonstration against itself as art and illusion . . . .The theme of wholeness can only be presented negatively.” That is why the destruction of Løvborg’s manuscript and of Løvborg himself has to be ironic: the society of the future goes up in flames. The play’s pervasive “irony or ambiguity” makes our reading of it as dubious as Tesman’s project of recreating the manuscript. Its ending is neither “redemptive” nor an instance of “tragic negativity,” but comic. Helland concludes, as we might have expected, by disclaiming any intent on his part to “prove” anything about the play. Even seeing the play as self-destructive self-reflexiveness marks an “absurd position.” This means not that Hedda Gabler is indeterminate of meaning, but that coming to terms with indeterminacy of meaning is the modernist problem. Helland’s intellectual nihilism (alas, only near nihilism) moves knowledgeably, nimbly, and articulately among current ideas.

In an essay of wide perspectives and much critical acumen (10), Hedda Gabler serves Anca Vlasopolos, too, as an exemplary play, a work that defies traditional generics and allows Vlasopolos to make the point that the old genre distinctions reinforce social hierarchies. The premise for the realistic bourgeois drama, that “all men are created equal,” excluded women and the lower classes. The same hidden biases underlie today’s domestic violence, and our popular drama is still divided by the old genre distinctions, all of them reflecting male desire. In the ancient Greek theatre, genres served as a means to ratify onstage violence as ritualized sacrifice intended to keep the oppressed of the polis quiet by presenting them with spectacles of their betters suffering and dying. Viasopolos wants to supplant that model with plays that are not pathological deviants and not necessarily “feminist,” but will help us to “put into question the stability of assumptions about genre, which after all are assumptions about unanimity on issues such as gender, class, and race.” Brecht, who sought “complex, ambivalent, individualized” audience responses, wrote such “antigeneric” plays.

Coriolanus and Le Misanthrope are, like Hedda Gabler, “antecedents” to the “twentieth-century anti-norm,” whose “slipperiness of genre undercuts the ideology of classical ‘genre’” (“ideology” here presumably being both dramatic and sociopolitical). Unlike Shakespeare and Molière, who play with but do not question gender distinctions, Ibsen in Hedda Gabler does question them by problematizing victimage into genderlessness. Coriolanus and Alceste are ambivalent as unlikable representatives of indispensable virtues, Hedda because Ibsen uses her to evoke only to reject the stereotype of the immoral aristocratic woman whose dismissal confirms bourgeois propriety and denounces woman’s sexual emancipation and instead reduces the bourgeoisie, regardless of their sex, age, and class, to rivals and objects of desire. The interchangeable, constantly changing “triangular mobile of desire” in Hedda Gabler (Tesman and Brack, Brack and Løvborg, rivals for Hedda; Hedda and Thea rivals first for Løvborg and then for Tesman; Hedda and Aunt Julie rivals for Tesman) “levels any claims to superiority the middle class might make and subtly undermines the sex-role differentiation imposed by the bourgeois division of public and private spheres.” Victimization is everywhere in the play, but its scene is no longer the palace grounds or the market place or a salon, but “the inner space” of the Tesman drawing room. Domesticated, the ambivalent action confronts us with our own uncertainty of response. “This is the ultimate gift of antigeneric drama: destabilizing our certainties. . . We get reflexivity without catharsis.” Such drama encourages our scepticism about “victorious truths,” not excluding Vlasopolos’ own argument that “theatre against the grain” can demolish the old classicist, sexist, racist, and imperialistic genre divisions. In addition to its many other virtues, this is also a splendidly researched article. Vlasopolos’ bibliography is indispensable for any further study of feminism and drama.

More prosaically (but still skeptically) Bjørn Hemmer juxtaposes the psychologies of Nora and Rebecca in order to voice his “notion of negative sides” to Ibsen’s dramas about someone struggling “to take possession of and act on her individual freedom” (11). The lact act of A Doll House begins with a duologue between two people about to enter a marriage more modest in its expectations and less self-centered than the Helmers’. “Kristine’s is a quiet voice in the drama, easily drowned out by Nora’s loud call for freedom.” The moment of recognition for Rebecca comes when Kroll reveals the circumstances of her birth. What changes her is not the realization that she has committed incest, but that her father sexually used her, that emancipation of the self may entail selfish exploitation of others. Under that new knowledge her trust in her lover’s radical thinking collapses, and she becomes the protagonist of a “tragedy of liberalism.” For Nora, it would be immoral not to leave, but she achieves liberation at the cost of losing her family. And the ending of Rosmersholm “is a constant accusatory reminder that individual liberty can be abused.”

There are ideological overtones also in Sandra Saari’s article on the male-constructed women in John Gabriel Borkman (12). That act one leaves us with a sense of the yet unseen Borkman as a construction of the twin sisters only means that both Gunhild and Ella define themselves exclusively by their relation to him. The play is about the “ideal woman” as a social construct, with the sisters finding worth and purpose in their lives only in terms of a man’s status and needs. Ironically, they are not in contention for Borkman, as they think, with each other, or with another woman, but with the male entrepreneur’s dream of becoming the Napoleon of Norwegian finance. They can reconcile at the end only as “shadows,” all life gone out of them. Borkman’s and Foldal’s friendship founders on their disagreement on woman: Foldal’s view is idealistic, Borkman’s is cynical. The play’s only subverter of the patriarchy is Fanny Wilton, who mocks sexist society’s behavioral cliches in openly choosing the part of the older seductress of a younger man over that of “the ideal woman.” Saari admirably correlates her feminist concerns and Ibsen’s sceptical mode.

The non-ideological, “antigeneric,” and ambivalent Ibsen of non-closure is the subject also of Göran Printz-Påhlsson’s study of Rosmersholm (13). The play reflects nothing ideological but “the contract of realism.” Neither Kroll nor Mortensgaard is politically right or wrong, Brendel is an intellectual bankrupt, Rebecca regards ancient sophrosne (moderation, equilibrium of opposites) as a sickness (acrasia, lack of will), passionless Rosmer’s idea of “ennobling souls” is empty talk, and Madam Helseth’s famous curtain line is simpleminded superstition. All “the contract of realism” does is to turn the audience into “interested” but neutral and skeptical observers. “There is no proper moral dimension to the play.” Debates on whether Rosmersholm is drama or novel, Freudian analyses of Rebecca, and finding clues to the play’s meaning in folk-lore raise side issues, not only because they omit crucial portions of the play, but also because they fail to heed Kierkegaard’s reminder in Fear and Trembling that “aesthetics required concealment and rewarded it, ethics required revelation and had to push aesthetics out of the picture.”

Printz-Påhlsson’s notion of Rosmersholm as film is not whimsical; the play’s spectators become voyeurs, like Rebecca and Madame Helseth, or like film-goers watching “the full representation of trivia” (Stanley Cavell), uninvolved in the film though fearful of it, immersing themselves in the ambiguities and non-commitments of the medium, which is under no other “contract” than that of realism. Rosmersholm is neither tragic nor comic, neither moral nor amoral, but merely filmic. It would be impertinent to agree or disagree with such a sustained exercise in esthetic distancing. I found it elegantly provocative.

Egil Törnqvist subjects A Doll House to analysis by “performance semiotics” (14), a formidable undertaking, in which he succeeds better than his initial abstract scheme had seemed to forebode. At the end, he has convinced the reader that his listing of “categories” of what he calls text, stage, and film/television performance and his “vertical” (among the categories) and “horizontal” (among the different media within the same category) analyses are parts of “a legitimate and meaningful” enterprise. Why performance texts differ, and differ in the ways that they do, can have only speculative answers, but we should try to make them less so by deducing “signifiés” from careful observation of the “signifiants.” The essay includes different directors’ detailed perceptions of Ibsen’s plays—some exquisite, some fascinating, some merely odd.

The general subject of Asbjørn Aarseth’s article (15) is the same as Törnqvist’s, but his focus is narrower and his findings are different, although not incompatible. Before discussing the differences between film and theater productions that are inherent in the media themselves, Aarseth offers the delightful observation that in 1884, George Eastman did what Hjalmar Ekdal failed to do, i.e., he made a technological invention in photography (that made moving pictures possible). Like everyone else who compares theatre to film, Aarseth posits as basic the fact that in the theatre the spectator’s viewpoint is fixed, while the camera moves around. One corollary is that only film and television can “dissolve” space. Thus the “symbolic resonance” of the scenography of a play is more easily perceived in the theatre than in front of a movie or television screen. For example, the outdoor scenes in Losey’s film version of A Doll House lose for the viewer any sense of Nora’s entrapment in her doll house. The “catch 22” for the film-maker is that if he faithfully follows Ibsen’s claustrophobic script and confines himself to indoor scenes, the audience is likely to wonder why he doesn’t use the camera as the movable spectator it primarily is. Aarseth ends by considering what is lost and what is gained by the filmmaker’s use of teichoscopy, showing only what the characters on stage see, and not what the spectators see. The director who keeps the Ekdals’ wild duck out of camera range runs the risk of producing “filmed theatre.”

The problem of the visibility of the wild duck both in the theatre and on film—to be seen or not to be seen?—occurs also in Thomas Van Laan’s (shocking!) suggestion (16) that the legacy of John Northam’s Ibsen Dramatic Method (1953) may have done stage directors more harm than good by being text-bound rather than performance-bound. If Ibsen had Gina and Hjalmar “drag” (“slæber”) Hedvig’s dead body off-stage at the end of The Wild Duck, a director (or translator) who out of respect for the dead child wants her body “carried” rather than “dragged” falsifies Ibsen’s text. As does Ingmar Bergman when he stages act five from inside the attic. Bergman lets us see what we want to see and expect to see, but what Ibsen does not want us to see. However imaginative, provocative, and interesting such directorial inventions may seem, they result in a performance that is not the performance Ibsen visualized as he wrote the play. Rosmersholm, Hedda Gabler, and The Master Builder are other plays in which the catastrophe is outside the audience’s view and should be left this way. Northam’s invitation to scenographers to translate Ibsen’s stage directions into symbols and suggestions has too often led to “imposed” and “static” visual images. A performance should do more than make the playwright’s words visible; it should allow complete expression in stage action of what the text calls for. Only thus can it become the “true ‘text’ of the play.” Sometimes Van Laan comes close to implying that none of Northam’s comments on Ibsen’s stage directions are stageable in the positive sense Van Laan has in mind, but once again he has come up with challenging new angles on old views.

The problem Errol Durbach faced in acting as dramaturg for a University of British Columbia production of A Doll House in 1987 was how to reconcile authentic period decor with timeless significance, how to let the universal shine through the dated (or even the updated) scenographic particulars (17). Or, opting for neither “antiquarian realism” nor contemporaneous “slice-of-life realism,” how to deconstructively or expressionistically conceptualize the play without turning it into a quaint vehicle for vast and vapid socio-psychological symbolism. The dilemma is endemic (vide Asbjørn Aarseth) and can only be solved pragmatically. What Durbach and Company did was to devise a wall-less set, with a minimum of furniture and no obvious period pieces, dress Nora in the fashion of the 1960’s, and then have her return, from the change of clothes in act three, in the kind of dress an upper-middleclass woman might have worn in 1897. This turned away the audience’s otherwise obvious question why the “modern” Nora could not take her children with her and count on child support as provided by current law. And the period-neutral set for most of the play supposedly helped to close the audience’s temporal distance from Nora and her problems. Thus, Durbach hopes, the production avoided both “mummifying” Ibsen’s play and deconstructing it into something other than itself. But, disappointingly, Durbach tells us that the discussion of the play between cast/director and audience after the performance had “very little to do with Nora’s human rights, or the ethical implications of leaving home.” What the audience did was to question the “translating” of a nineteenth-century play into the twentieth. I think I know what the moral of that is.

Joan Templeton reports on the Noras of the American stage who have succeeded in making Ibsen’s character believeable as a person, intellectually, morally, and psychologically all of a piece (18). The often expressed critical view that we cannot accept the frivolous skylark of the first act becoming the serious, thoughtful, and eloquent woman who leaves husband and children at the end is nonsense. “A Doll House is not about a doll who turns into a woman, but about a woman who renounces being a doll.” Nora is subtle and deep from the beginning. In the past, Minnie Maddern Fiske (1894) and Alla Nazimova (1908, 1917) succeeded in recreating that Nora on stage. In 1975, Liv Ullman did it. (And now, in 1997, Janet McTeer has done it.)

In yet another of their helpful forays into stage history, the Markers trace the style, “the performance syntax,” and the artistic and ideological rationale for representing European stagings of Ibsen over the last hundred years (19). It appears that for all the determination of turn-of-the-century directors (Reinhardt, Craig, Meyerhold) to shun the creation of “facsimiles of the Victorian parlor” and to raise Ibsen’s realism to the heights of the universal by stage sets of abstractionism, constructivism, and symbolism, the main tradition has loyally transcribed Ibsen’s detailed stage directions into authentic Victorian museum pieces. Nonrepresentational staginess have been, at best, “discontinuous.” Ingmar Bergman’s Hedda Gabler in 1964 and his Doll House of 1989 are two of them. Recently, leftist directors in central Europe have used the plays to satirize (sometimes to the point of travesty) the tradition of bourgeois liberalism that they find in them, e.g., Peter Zadek’s 1967 Doll House and Peter Stein’s 1971 Peer Gynt. Most of the time the Markers sound like neutral observers of a varied scene, but a comment on Rudolf Noelte’s 1979 The Wild Duck may reveal their own preference. Noelte’s production, they write, was “a perfect example of a performance enriched by a tradition without being reduced to conventionality by it.”

Åse Hiorth Lervik shows that critics have not accurately described the verse/prose alternatives in The Feast at Solhaug (20). In her close analysis, verse in the play signifies candor about feelings in monologues and mutual confidentiality in duologues and serves lovers as a secret code. The switches from verse to prose and vice versa function as a “predominantly psychological means of characterization.” Lervik here performs a small but intricate task in an exemplary manner, reminding us again of what a fine reader she is: attentive, accurate, ingenious, reasonable, persuasive.

Like hers, Van Laan’s essays always carry authority. So also his description of Lady Inger (21) as a Hettnerian tragedy in Scribean form, with the protagonist both the innocent, passive victim of fate and at the same time a refuser of her divine calling. The play marks an advance over The Feast at Solhaug in tragic potential, in its consistent use of prose, in its dramatic irony, and in fusing Hettner’s “historical” and “domestic” drama; but a step backwards from Catiline in its awkward handling of retrospection and catharsis, in its bewildering plot, and in its failure to realize its tragic potential.

Errol Durbach does not so much offer a new reading of Brand as find new and useful terms for expressing what by now has become something like the standard reading (22). As Romantic hero, a believer in human perfectibility, Brand is Ibsen’s antithesis and the play is a descant on ambivalence: love of others versus love of God. The dichotomy has an analogue in Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, who combines in a single figure the cruelly uncompromising Christ (Brand) and the merciful and tolerant Christ (the doctor). The ending is an answerless non-closure. For all Durbach’s smallness of focus, there have been many worse readings of Brand than this.

Edvard Beyer conveniently surveys and paraphrases critical responses to Brand and Peer Gynt on their first publication (23). Some of the issues raise seem dated (is verse the proper medium for polemics and satire?), others not (is Brand a character or an argument?). The value of such a survey obviously depends on the surveyor’s knowledge, competence, and fairness. With Beyer, these are not problems.

John Northam’s analysis of the “movements” in John Gabriel Borkman and of Borkman’s claim to being considered a genius (24) builds to a pleasant conceit. Northam finds the ending of the play properly ambiguous and the whole play better than its forbidding reputation as a piece of utter chill and gloom. Ibsen’s poem “A Swan” (ca. 1865) would be a fitting epitaph for it; only when dying in song does the swan reveal itself as a creature of noble beauty.

In no other recent single year have so many considerable Ibsen essays given us the questioning rather than the answering Ibsen. That is a welcome change.

Otto Reinert
University of Washington


(Contemporary Approaches to Ibsen, ed. Bjørn Hemmer and Vigdis Ystad, is abbreviated as CAI.)

1. Brian Johnston, “The Dangerous Seductions of the Past: Ibsen’s Counter-Discourse to Modernity,” Modern Drama 37 (Winter 1994), 651-64.

2. Gerald Dugan, “The Cycle Returns: Brian Johnston’s Ibsen Cycle,” Modern Drama 37 (Winter 1994), 665-80.

3. Paul Baxter, “The ‘Heroic Age’ in Ibsen and Hegel,” Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 7 (1994), 33-47.

4. Anatoly Lunacharsky, “‘The Last Great Bourgeois’: On the Plays of Henrik Ibsen,” trans. Edward Braun, New Theatre Quarterly 10 (August 1994), 223-41.

5. Charles R. Lyons, “Ibsen’s Realism and the Predicates of Postmodernism,” CAI 8 (1994), 185-204.

6. Michael Goldman, “Eyolf’s Eyes: Ibsen and the Cultural Meanings of Child Abuse,” American Imago 51 (Fall 1994), 279-305.

7. William Demarest, “Re-Inspecting the Crack in the Chimney: Chaos Theory from Ibsen to Stoppard,” New Theatre Quarterly 10 (August 1994), 242-54.

8. Vigdis Ystad, “The Young Ibsen – Critic and Theatre-Writer,” CAI 7 (1991), 141-60.

9. Frode Helland, “Irony and Experience in Hedda Gabler,” CAI 8 (1994), 141-60.

10. Anca Vlasopolos, “Emotions Unpurged: Antigeneric Theater and the Politics of Violence,” Borderworks: Feminist Engagements with Comparative Literature, ed. Margaret R. Higonnet (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), 120-43.

11. Bjørn Hemmer, “Ibsen and the Crisis of Individual Freedom: Nora Helmer versus Rebekka Gainvik,” CAI 7 (1991), 171-83.

12. Sandra Saari, “The Female Positions in John Gabriel Borkman,” CAI 8 (1994), 159-84.

13. Goran Printz-Påhlsson, “Rosmersholm as Novel, as Film: Passion and Action,” CAI 7 (1991), 185-203.

14. Egil Tørnqvist, “Comparative Performance Semiotics: The End of Ibsen’s
A Doll House,” Theatre Research International 19 (Summer 1994), 156-64.

15. Asbjørn Aarseth, “Ibsen from Stage to Screen: Structural Effects from a Change in Medium,” CAI 8 (1994), 65-73.

16. Thomas Van Laan, “Not Just Visual; Not Just Illustrative; Performance and Meaning in Ibsen,” CAI 7 (1991), 51-63.

17. Errol Durbach, “Ibsen’s Stage Realism: Theory, Problem, and Practice,”
CAI 7 (1991), 113-20.

18. Joan Templeton,” Nora on the American Stage, 1894-1975: Acting the Integral Text,” CAI 7 (1991), 121-30.

19. Frederick J. and Lise-Lone Marker, “Ibsen and the Director: From Traditionalism to Travesty in Recent European Theatre,” CAI 8 (1994), 39-49.

20. Åse Hiorth Lervik, “Verse and Prose in The Feast at Solhaug,” CAI 8 (1994), 3-24.

21. Thomas Van Laan, “Lady Inger as Tragedy,” CAI 8 (1994), 25-46.

22. Errol Durbach, “Brand: A Romantic Exile from Paradise,” CAI 8 (1994),

23. Edvard Beyer, “The Reception of Ibsen’s Brand and Peer Gynt in Scandinavia, 1866-1868,” CAI 8 (1994), 47-69.

24. John Northam, “John Gabriel Borkman and the Swan Song,” CAI 8 (1994), 131-40.


Articles on Ibsen >> | 1983-1988 | 1989-1991 | 1992-1994 | 1995-1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000