By Michael Egan
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). Norwegian dramatist, often said because the founding father of smooth prose drama. Writings comprise: A Doll's apartment, Ghosts, Rosmersholm. quantity covers interval 1872-1906.
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Extra resources for Henrik Ibsen (Critical Heritage Series)
England alone failed to rise to the occasion and her ‘delicate compliment to Ibsen’ was seized upon by Shaw as an opportunity to get discussion going again. Yet this too failed and when When We Dead Awaken was published two years later it was hardly noticed. Not even James Joyce’s excited review in the Fortnightly Review (No. 153) attracted much attention to it. In 1901 The Pillars of Society was revived and in 1902 The Lady from the Sea was given a second chance; but only the politest regard was paid to these efforts.
Finally, two incalculable factors. First, the fact that the United States lacked an institutionalized censoring body. It is probable that the absence of such an institution, which in England and elsewhere had acted as a focus for hostility, eased even further such tensions as were produced. Secondly, the fact that in the commercial 1890s few were willing to gamble on a box-office flop. This meant that Ibsen was introduced gradually, over a matter of twenty years. New York experienced nothing like those ten explosive weeks in London in 1891.
21 Gosse and Archer collaborated on a translation and the play, with Miss Robins as Hilda, went into rehearsal. On 20 February 1893, the curtain went up on the first performance. Appropriately enough, its first public defence was undertaken by Henry James, who on 17 February published an intelligent and perceptive discussion of the drama and its intricate symbolic manner (No. 96). 22 The morning after the première the critics, as usual, were deeply hostile but the terms of their abuse had changed—the outcry over Ghosts and the respect accorded Hedda Gabler had assured that.