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Six Plays: Peer Gynt / A Doll's House / Ghosts / The Wild Duck / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder

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The father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen shook off the stale conventions of nineteenth-century theater and made the stage play an instrument for brilliantly illuminating the dark recesses of human nature. After writing historical plays and imaginative epic dramas in verse, such as Peer Gynt, Ibsen turned away from history and romanticism to focus instead on the problems of The father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen shook off the stale conventions of nineteenth-century theater and made the stage play an instrument for brilliantly illuminating the dark recesses of human nature. After writing historical plays and imaginative epic dramas in verse, such as Peer Gynt, Ibsen turned away from history and romanticism to focus instead on the problems of the individual and modern society. The plays of his middle period—A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and his most popular play, Hedda Gabler—are masterpieces of stark psychological realism. In his final plays, including The Master Builder, Ibsen mixed realism and symbolism to enrich his examination of our subconscious drives and urges. Ibsen was criticized and denounced during his lifetime for expanding the boundaries of what is acceptable fare for the stage. Audiences were shocked when he wrote of feminist yearnings, venereal disease, and the deep emotions that underlie the sadness involved in being human. James Joyce put the criticism in perspective: “Henrik Ibsen is one of the world’s great men before whom criticism can make but feeble show. . . . When the art of a dramatist is perfect the critic is superfluous.” Ibsen has since come to be considered one of our greatest playwrights. Six Plays by Henrik Ibsen is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: •New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars •Biographies of the authors •Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events •Footnotes and endnotes •Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work •Comments by other famous authors •Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations •Bibliographies for further reading •Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


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The father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen shook off the stale conventions of nineteenth-century theater and made the stage play an instrument for brilliantly illuminating the dark recesses of human nature. After writing historical plays and imaginative epic dramas in verse, such as Peer Gynt, Ibsen turned away from history and romanticism to focus instead on the problems of The father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen shook off the stale conventions of nineteenth-century theater and made the stage play an instrument for brilliantly illuminating the dark recesses of human nature. After writing historical plays and imaginative epic dramas in verse, such as Peer Gynt, Ibsen turned away from history and romanticism to focus instead on the problems of the individual and modern society. The plays of his middle period—A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and his most popular play, Hedda Gabler—are masterpieces of stark psychological realism. In his final plays, including The Master Builder, Ibsen mixed realism and symbolism to enrich his examination of our subconscious drives and urges. Ibsen was criticized and denounced during his lifetime for expanding the boundaries of what is acceptable fare for the stage. Audiences were shocked when he wrote of feminist yearnings, venereal disease, and the deep emotions that underlie the sadness involved in being human. James Joyce put the criticism in perspective: “Henrik Ibsen is one of the world’s great men before whom criticism can make but feeble show. . . . When the art of a dramatist is perfect the critic is superfluous.” Ibsen has since come to be considered one of our greatest playwrights. Six Plays by Henrik Ibsen is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: •New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars •Biographies of the authors •Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events •Footnotes and endnotes •Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work •Comments by other famous authors •Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations •Bibliographies for further reading •Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

30 review for Six Plays: Peer Gynt / A Doll's House / Ghosts / The Wild Duck / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    This collection is a sort of strange farrago of Ibsen's plays, from the metrical mock-epic of Peer Gynt, to the family dramas of A Doll's House, Ghosts and The Wild Duck, and lastly Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder which are powerfully individual dramas. Ibsen was a very versatile play write, maybe the best since Shakespeare. Unlike Shakespeare, Ibsen has much more the novelist's sentiment, he doesn't write comedies or tragedies, or what-have-you, but rather he writes life as it is, comments This collection is a sort of strange farrago of Ibsen's plays, from the metrical mock-epic of Peer Gynt, to the family dramas of A Doll's House, Ghosts and The Wild Duck, and lastly Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder which are powerfully individual dramas. Ibsen was a very versatile play write, maybe the best since Shakespeare. Unlike Shakespeare, Ibsen has much more the novelist's sentiment, he doesn't write comedies or tragedies, or what-have-you, but rather he writes life as it is, comments on it and criticizes it. Where the bard is the master of language, Ibsen is a master of morality, particularly household morality, family morality. And most of all, Ibsen is the champion of the individual: man, woman, child, invalid, married, abandoned or alone, anyone and everyone and individual unto themselves. Certainly A Doll's House is Ibsen's most-read, and understandably, it is a pillar of drama. It is comedy, tragedy, satire, it is humanist and feminist, it is economic and economical. Following Nora, a faithful wife to her husband Torvald, who indebted herself to a man who lusts for her in order to care for her dying father, only to feel the alarming suffocation of that debt when it comes due: the pressure of finances, the social stigma of her forgery, the family pressures and judgments; but most of all the truth of her position. Nora realizes that she is not an equal in her marriage, she is beneath even her children in the esteem of their father, she is a simple doll. Torvald treats her, and addresses her, strictly in the diminutive, barely even capable of believing his "squirrel" of such a transgression. Nora's struggle against her husband, a man who she thought she loved and who loved her, but who supresses and dismisses her, who treats her as sub-human, sub-individual, is heartbreaking, and feels very real. While there is a beauty in the versed plays of Racine, Shakespeare, the greeks, there is a lovely poignancy in Ibsens's realistic and colloquial portrayal of Nora's (and Hedda's and Hedvig's) plight. Joyce was notably a devoted fan of Ibsens, and it is most obvious in his Dubliners: their critical eye to society, their offhand colloquialism, and perhaps most Ibsen-esque: their moral epiphanies. NORA Our house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa's doll-child. And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald.Unlike in Joyce, Nora's (Hedda's, Hedvig's, Solness's, Mrs. Alving's) epiphanies are powerful enough to disrupt, the cause change: their effects are irrevocable and unavoidable. It becomes impossible for Nora to stay> Though leaving her children pains her, to stay for their sake would destroy her. Ghosts, alongside Hedda Gabler and Peer Gynt was a most felicitous discovery for me. The drama whirls around the Alving family: the family-head recently deceased, an orphanage has been built and is to be named in his memory, the son suffers from dangerous seizures and so is come home where he falls in love with his nurse, Regina; his mother has deluded herself into believing the heroic mythology about her late husband, though she knows him to have been a cruel and unfaithful scoundrel and drunk. The play deals with two parallel issues: individual rights, parental rights, over life/death of a son, and the creeping of the past into the present. Ultimately Ghosts is haunted by the mortality and impotence of the good (Oswald) and the immortality of evil (Mr. Alving's reputation, legacy). The discovery of Regina's consanguinity with the Alving's, the most wretched of Mr. Alving's legacies, brings on Oswald's most severe seizure as yet. While Oswald is weak, loving, and honest, his presence in the play is always diminished beneath the shadow of his terrible father, who grows more and more terrible. It is the ghost of Mr. Alving which is unescapable, which is to say that moral transgressions outlive us, our sins become our legacies.MRS. ALVING I almost think we are all of us ghosts, Pastor Manders. It is not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that "walks with us. It is all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we cannot shake them off. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sands of the sea. And then we are, on and all, so pitifully afraid of the light. I have read somewhere that Hedda Gabler is considered by some to be the "female Hamlet" - a sort of strange claim, which doesn't seem to quite follow the texts. While both Hamlet and Hedda are tremendous imaginative capacity, and both powerful individual thinkers (and hero-villains of their respective plays), Hedda's case is one of neuroticism, not of genius. Hedda's hero-villainy is not simple revenge or Machiavellian ambition, nor even true madness. She doggedly pursues what it is that she wants, but what she wants is an aberration of normal morality, her means for achieving those odd ends are even more transgressive and highly manipulative: but they adhere clearly to her own subconscious logic. She is not mad, she is without reason, her reason is simply perverted. She is married to an Tesman, a man who bores her and offends her in his simplicity. She is the masculine figure to an unmanned husband, she is an expert horse rider, and a champion of her father's, rather than her husband's, name. When her old flame, Lovborg, returns, having achieved fame for his work in the same academic field as Tesman, she fears that he will threaten their financial security. Though he assures her that he is not interested in pursuing the professorship that Tesman has worked hard for, Hedda still manipulates him to go out drinking (he is a recovering alcoholic) with her husband and his friends. He does so, loses his manuscript for his "great sequel" to his previous work. Tesman discovers it, and Hedda, instead of returning it, convinces Lovborg to commit suicide (giving him her own gun), and then burns the manuscript. When her complicity in his suicide is discovered, she kills herself. Hedda has a tremendous capacity for imagination, and is perhaps one of the great solipsists of drama, alongside her princely Danish friend. Like Hamlet, she is an aesthete; he view of the world is a drama in itself, and that drama is one which is proleptic to the play which we read as Hedda Gabler, until the two converge at her suicide. Her love for Lovborg is one which is artistic, beautiful, and his death in the brothel shatters her warmly amorous conception of him, shatters the illusion of him in her eyes, and reveals to her the very real world around her: the broken pieces left behind of her beautiful design. Like Hamlet, Hedda's design is perfect, but only as it adheres to her own internal (and flawed) logic, and therefore it is incompatible to the real world. Though ultimately her goals are achieved, the effects escape her, they are not as she planned, and her design has failed her.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Peer Gynt -------- Well-deserving its esteemed place in the history of literature, theater, and art. Gynt is not a fable of the Ubermensch brought low by chance and happenstance, but something far more radical and absolutely modern: a revelation of the abyssal illusion that divides every man from himself. One can no more overstep illusion to attain the integral man than one can tear the man from his prized illusion. Ignorance, folly, and hubris ensure that whether a man does what he is or is what Peer Gynt -------- Well-deserving its esteemed place in the history of literature, theater, and art. Gynt is not a fable of the Ubermensch brought low by chance and happenstance, but something far more radical and absolutely modern: a revelation of the abyssal illusion that divides every man from himself. One can no more overstep illusion to attain the integral man than one can tear the man from his prized illusion. Ignorance, folly, and hubris ensure that whether a man does what he is or is what he does, the tragic reckoning will have the last laugh, belated comprehension dawning in your own death grin. -------- A Doll's House ----------- As compact and fiery as a moral meteor raining doom upon the dinosaurs of provincialism. Nora is close kin to Antigone: all that remains of the false promises of happiness is dying on your own terms. ----------- Ghosts A specter is haunting, well, everybody. Some are just more at home with the lifeless, others would rather die than stay home. And still others have lived a lie for so long that the truth literally kills. -----------

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ayne Ray

    A major 19th century Norwegian playwright known for his exploration of morality, conformity, and alienation. My personal favorite (“A Doll’s House”) is a critique of women’s rights, and was quite progressive and controversial for its time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I had to read Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck for class, but picked up the rest on my own. After becoming familiar with his work, it is easy to appreciate his talent for portraying psychological turmoil. Ibsen creates rich characters with intricate relationships and motivations for their actions. I wish I could write about certain specifics, but it's been too long since I've finished this volume. It's definitely worth reading if you enjoy psychological drama or are studying dramatic literature. I had to read Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck for class, but picked up the rest on my own. After becoming familiar with his work, it is easy to appreciate his talent for portraying psychological turmoil. Ibsen creates rich characters with intricate relationships and motivations for their actions. I wish I could write about certain specifics, but it's been too long since I've finished this volume. It's definitely worth reading if you enjoy psychological drama or are studying dramatic literature.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    آثار نمایشی هنریک ایبسن مانند زندگی اش پر از فراز و نشیب اند. برخی منتقدان او را به راستی ستوده اند و برخی هرگز آثارش را نپسندیدند. ایبسن به معنایی که دکتر امیر حسین آریانپور در کتاب "ایبسن آشوب گرای" نوشته، چه در زندگی و چه در آثارش یک آنارشیست جلوه می کند. با وجودی که گفته اند از شکسپیر به این سو دوران تراژدی بسر آمده، برخی از منتقدان بر این اعتقاداند که ایبسن تنها نمایش نامه نویسی ست که برخی از آثارش مانند اشباح و هداگابلر به تراژدی به معنای ارسطویی و شکسپیری آن نزدیک است. آثار نمایشی هنریک ایبسن مانند زندگی اش پر از فراز و نشیب اند. برخی منتقدان او را به راستی ستوده اند و برخی هرگز آثارش را نپسندیدند. ایبسن به معنایی که دکتر امیر حسین آریانپور در کتاب "ایبسن آشوب گرای" نوشته، چه در زندگی و چه در آثارش یک آنارشیست جلوه می کند. با وجودی که گفته اند از شکسپیر به این سو دوران تراژدی بسر آمده، برخی از منتقدان بر این اعتقاداند که ایبسن تنها نمایش نامه نویسی ست که برخی از آثارش مانند اشباح و هداگابلر به تراژدی به معنای ارسطویی و شکسپیری آن نزدیک است.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    I'm not exactly recommending this version of Ibsen, but I couldn't find the particular volume that I read. However, that said Ibsen is a master at building personally anxiety and tragedy. Hedda Gabler is a masterpiece, but check out the Lady of the Sea. It's got a very different tone and written in an almost hopeful tone, which is refreshing after so much wonderful misery. I'm not exactly recommending this version of Ibsen, but I couldn't find the particular volume that I read. However, that said Ibsen is a master at building personally anxiety and tragedy. Hedda Gabler is a masterpiece, but check out the Lady of the Sea. It's got a very different tone and written in an almost hopeful tone, which is refreshing after so much wonderful misery.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angelique

    I love Ibsen with every bit of my soul. I used to think that plays aren't meant to be read, but wanted to read Ghosts, after visiting the Ibsen museum in Oslo. I fell in love with it. All of them are better than TV! I love Ibsen with every bit of my soul. I used to think that plays aren't meant to be read, but wanted to read Ghosts, after visiting the Ibsen museum in Oslo. I fell in love with it. All of them are better than TV!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    I hadn't read any Ibsen since college, but he hasn't lost his amazingly direct and tragic Norwegian touch. Hedda Gabler is my favorite, but A Doll's House and Ghosts aren't far behind. And The Master Builder! Honestly, you can't go wrong with Ibsen... I hadn't read any Ibsen since college, but he hasn't lost his amazingly direct and tragic Norwegian touch. Hedda Gabler is my favorite, but A Doll's House and Ghosts aren't far behind. And The Master Builder! Honestly, you can't go wrong with Ibsen...

  9. 5 out of 5

    James Violand

    Norwegian Ibsen was the founder of Modernism in theater. I found his plays very interesting and relevant no matter where the location or the era.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Fortkamp

    I hadn't read Ibsen since college (I'm now 60 yrs. old). Had forgotten how humorous he is and impressed that the political points still resonate today. I hadn't read Ibsen since college (I'm now 60 yrs. old). Had forgotten how humorous he is and impressed that the political points still resonate today.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Albie

    Six Plays by Henrik Ibsen (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics Trade Paper) by Henrik Ibsen (2003)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cws

    839.822

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Scott

    I love Ibsen. A wonderful playwright.

  14. 5 out of 5

    C Alix

  15. 4 out of 5

    Parat

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeanett Bilet Andersen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shennety

  18. 4 out of 5

    lisa jahnel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pep Stebek

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katrina MacWhirter

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fran Blake

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather Hamilton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isil

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Warren Hankinson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Giovanni

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richa

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gary Wegley

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kat

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