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The winter of 1879-80 Ibsen spent in Munich, and the greater part of the summer of 1880 at Berchtesgaden. November 1880 saw him back in Rome, and he passed the summer of 1881 at Sorrento. There, fourteen years earlier, he had written the last acts of Peer Gynt; there he now wrote, or at any rate completed, Gengangere. It was published in December 1881, after he had returned to Rome.
Ghosts PDF Book by Henrik Ibsen
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On December 22 he wrote to Ludwig Passarge, one of his German translators, “My new play has now appeared, and has occasioned a terrible uproar in the Scandinavian press; every day I receive letters and newspaper articles decrying or praising it…. I consider it utterly impossible that any German theatre will accept the play at present.
I hardly believe that they will dare to play it in the Scandinavian countries for some time to come.” How rightly he judged we shall see anon. In the newspapers there was far more obloquy than praise. Two men, however, stood by him from the first: Björnson, from whom he had been practically estranged ever since The League of Youth, and Georg Brandes.
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The latter published an article in which he declared (I quote from memory) that the play might or might not be Ibsen’s greatest work, but that it was certainly his noblest deed. It was, doubtless, in acknowledgment of this article that Ibsen wrote to Brandes on January 3, 1882: “Yesterday I had the great pleasure of receiving your brilliantly clear and so warmly appreciative review of Ghosts….
All who read your article must, it seems to me, have their eyes opened to what I meant by my new book—assuming, that is, that they have any wish to see. For I cannot get rid of the impression that a very large number of the false interpretations which have appeared in the newspapers are the work of people who know better.
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In Norway, however, I am willing to believe that the stultification has in most cases been unintentional; and the reason is not far to seek. In that country a great many of the critics are theologians, more or less disguised; and these gentlemen are, as a rule, quite unable to write rationally about creative literature.
That enfeeblement of judgment which, at least in the case of the average man, is an inevitable consequence of prolonged occupation with theological studies, betrays itself more especially in the judging of human character, human actions, and human motives. Practical business judgment, on the other hand, does not suffer so much from studies of this order.
Therefore the reverend gentlemen are very often excellent members of local boards; but they are unquestionably our worst critics.” This passage is interesting as showing clearly the point of view from which Ibsen conceived the character of Manders. A spacious garden-room, with one door to the left, and two doors to the right. In the middle of the room a round table, with chairs about it. Ghosts PDF Book
On the table lie books, periodicals, and newspapers. In the foreground to the left a window, and by it a small sofa, with a worktable in front of it. In the background, the room is continued into a somewhat narrower conservatory, the walls of which are formed by large panes of glass. In the right-hand wall of the conservatory is a door leading down into the garden.
Through the glass wall a gloomy fjord landscape is faintly visible, veiled by steady rain.] [ENGSTRAND, the carpenter, stands by the garden door. His left leg is somewhat bent; he has a clump of wood under the sole of his boot. REGINA, with an empty garden syringe in her hand, hinders him from advancing.] REGINA. [In a low voice.
What do you want? Stop where you are. You’re positively dripping. ENGSTRAND. It’s the Lord’s own rain, my girl. REGINA. It’s the devil’s rain, I say. ENGSTRAND. Lord, how you talk, Regina. [Limps a step or two forward into the room.] It’s just this as I wanted to say— REGINA. Don’t clatter so with that foot of yours, I tell you! The young master’s asleep upstairs. Ghosts PDF Book
ENGSTRAND. Asleep? In the middle of the day? REGINA. It’s no business of yours. ENGSTRAND. I was out on the loose last night— REGINA. I can quite believe that. ENGSTRAND. Yes, we’re weak vessels, we poor mortals, my girl— REGINA. So it seems. ENGSTRAND.—and temptations are manifold in this world, you see.
But all the same, I was hard at work, God knows, at half-past five this morning. REGINA. Very well; only be off now. I won’t stop here and have rendezvous’s [Note: This and other French words by Regina are in that language in the original] with you. ENGSTRAND. What do you say you won’t have? REGINA. I won’t have any one find you here; so just you go about your business.
ENGSTRAND. [Advances a step or two.] Blest if I go before I’ve had a talk with you. This afternoon I shall have finished my work at the school house, and then I shall take to-night’s boat and be off home to the town. REGINA. [Mutters.] Pleasant journey to you! ENGSTRAND. Thank you, my child. To-morrow the Orphanage is to be opened, and then there’ll be fine doings. Ghosts PDF Book
No doubt, and plenty of intoxicating drink going, you know. And nobody shall say of Jacob Engstrand that he can’t keep out of temptation’s way. REGINA. Oh! ENGSTRAND. You see, there’s to be heaps of grand folks here to-morrow. Pastor Manders is expected from town, too. REGINA. He’s coming to-day. ENGSTRAND.
There, you see! And I should be cursedly sorry if he found out anything against me, don’t you understand? In the next paragraph of the same letter he discusses the attitude of “the so-called Liberal press”; but as the paragraph contains the germ of An Enemy of the People, it may most fittingly be quoted in the introduction to that play.
Three days later (January 6) Ibsen wrote to Schandorph, the Danish novelist: “I was quite prepared for the hubbub. If certain of our Scandinavian reviewers have no talent for anything else, they have an unquestionable talent for thoroughly misunderstanding and misinterpreting those authors whose books they undertake to judge…. Ghosts PDF Book
They endeavour to make me responsible for the opinions which certain of the personages of my drama express. And yet there is not in the whole book a single opinion, a single utterance, which can be laid to the account of the author. I took good care to avoid this. The very method, the order of technique which imposes its form upon the play, forbids the author to appear in the speeches of his characters.
My object was to make the reader feel that he was going through a piece of real experience; and nothing could more effectually prevent such an impression than the intrusion of the author’s private opinions into the dialogue. Do they imagine at home that I am so inexpert in the theory of drama as not to know this?
Of course I know it, and act accordingly. In no other play that I have written is the author so external to the action, so entirely absent from it, as in this last one.” “They say,” he continued, “that the book preaches Nihilism. Not at all. It is not concerned to preach anything whatsoever. It merely points to the ferment of Nihilism going on under the surface, at home as elsewhere. Ghosts PDF Book Download
A Pastor Manders will always goad one or other Mrs. Alving to revolt. And just because she is a woman, she will, when once she has begun, go to the utmost extremes.” Towards the end of January Ibsen wrote from Rome to Olaf Skavlan: “These last weeks have brought me a wealth of experiences, lessons, and discoveries.
I, of course, foresaw that my new play would call forth a howl from the camp of the stagnationists; and for this I care no more than for the barking of a pack of chained dogs. But the pusillanimity which I have observed among the so-called Liberals has given me cause for reflection. The very day after my play was published the Dagblad rushed out a hurriedly-written article.
Evidently designed to purge itself of all suspicion of complicity in my work. This was entirely unnecessary. I myself am responsible for what I write, I and no one else. I cannot possibly embarrass any party, for to no party do I belong. I stand like a solitary franc-tireur at the outposts, and fight for my own hand. Ghosts PDF Book Download
The only man in Norway who has stood up freely, frankly, and courageously for me is Björnson. It is just like him. He has in truth a great, kingly soul, and I shall never forget his action in this matter.” One more quotation completes the history of these stirring January days, as written by Ibsen himself. It occurs in a letter to a Danish journalist, Otto Borchsenius.
“It may well be,” the poet writes, “that the play is in several respects rather daring. But it seemed to me that the time had come for moving some boundary-posts. And this was an undertaking for which a man of the older generation, like myself, was better fitted than the many younger authors who might desire to do something of the kind.
I was prepared for a storm; but such storms one must not shrink from encountering. That would be cowardice.” It happened that, just in these days, the present writer had frequent opportunities of conversing with Ibsen, and of hearing from his own lips almost all the views expressed in the above extracts. Ghosts PDF Book Download
He was especially emphatic, I remember, in protesting against the notion that the opinions expressed by Mrs. Alving or Oswald were to be attributed to himself. He insisted, on the contrary, that Mrs. Alving’s views were merely typical of the moral chaos inevitably produced by re-action from the narrow conventionalism represented by Manders.
With one consent, the leading theatres of the three Scandinavian capitals declined to have anything to do with the play. It was more than eighteen months old before it found its way to the stage at all. In August 1883 it was acted for the first time at Helsingborg, Sweden, by a travelling company under the direction of an eminent Swedish actor, August Lindberg, who himself played Oswald.
He took it on tour round the principal cities of Scandinavia, playing it, among the rest, at a minor theatre in Christiania. It happened that the boards of the Christiania Theatre were at the same time occupied by a French farce; and public demonstrations of protest were made against the managerial policy which gave Tête de Linotte the preference over Gengangere. Ghosts PDF Book Download
Gradually the prejudice against the play broke down. Already in the autumn of 1883 it was produced at the Royal (Dramatiska) Theatre in Stockholm. When the new National Theatre was opened in Christiania in 1899, Gengangere found an early place in its repertory; and even the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen has since opened its doors to the tragedy.
Not until April 1886 was Gespenster acted in Germany, and then only at a private performance, at the Stadttheater, Augsburg, the poet himself being present. In the following winter it was acted at the famous Court Theatre at Meiningen, again in the presence of the poet. The first (private) performance in Berlin took place on January 9, 1887.
At the Residenz Theater; and when the Freie Bühne, founded on the model of the Paris Theatre Libre, began its operations two years later (September 29, 1889), Gespenster was the first play that it produced. The Freie Bühne gave the initial impulse to the whole modern movement which has given Germany a new dramatic literature. Ghosts PDF Book Download
And the leaders of the movement, whether authors or critics, were one and all ardent disciples of Ibsen, who regarded Gespenster as his typical masterpiece. In Germany, then, the play certainly did, in Ibsen’s own words, “move some boundary-posts.” The Prussian censorship presently withdrew its veto, and on November 27, 1894, the two leading literary theatres of Berlin.
The Deutsches Theater and the Lessing Theater, gave simultaneous performances of the tragedy. Everywhere in Germany and Austria it is now freely performed; but it is naturally one of the least popular of Ibsen’s plays. It was with Les Revenants that Ibsen made his first appearance on the French stage.
MRS. ALVING. Here, in my loneliness, I have come to the same way of thinking, Pastor Manders. But I have never dared to say anything. Well! now my boy shall speak for me. MANDERS. You are greatly to be pitied, Mrs. Alving. But now I must speak seriously to you. And now it is no longer your business manager and adviser, your own and your husband’s early friend, who stands before you. Ghosts PDF Book Free
It is the priest—the priest who stood before you in the moment of your life when you had gone farthest astray. MRS. ALVING. And what has the priest to say to me? MANDERS. I will first stir up your memory a little. The moment is well chosen. To-morrow will be the tenth anniversary of your husband’s death. To-morrow the memorial in his honour will be unveiled.
To-morrow I shall have to speak to the whole assembled multitude. But to-day I will speak to you alone. MRS. ALVING. Very well, Pastor Manders. Speak. MANDERS. Do you remember that after less than a year of married life you stood on the verge of an abyss? That you forsook your house and home? That you fled from your husband?
Yes, Mrs. Alving— fled, fled, and refused to return to him, however much he begged and prayed you? MRS. ALVING. Have you forgotten how infinitely miserable I was in that first year? MANDERS. It is the very mark of the spirit of rebellion to crave for happiness in this life. What right have we human beings to happiness? Ghosts PDF Book Free
We have simply to do our duty, Mrs. Alving! And your duty was to hold firmly to the man you had once chosen, and to whom you were bound by the holiest ties. MRS. ALVING. You know very well what sort of life Alving was leading—what excesses he was guilty of.