Ibsen's Contemporary Plays. A Study in Glass Case Dramaturgy

Aarseth, Asbjørn: Ibsens samtidsskuespill. En studie i glasskapets dramaturgi

Henrik Ibsen is often called a revitaliser of European drama. But what is it that is new? This book analyses the scene setting and rhetoric of Ibsen’s twelve contemporary plays. Asbjørn Aarseth shifts the focus from the play’s content to its form, from theme to utterance - in other words, to dramatic effect. Ibsen’s Contemporary Plays. A study in Glass Case Dramaturgy is the first book in Norwegian to discuss these twelve plays consistently and systematically from the point of view of "Ibsen as a scenic artist".

Ibsen is a romantic from start to finish, according to Aarseth. This is shown partly by the fact that the boundaries of the inner and outer worlds are so markedly drawn - both physically and metaphorically. The typical Ibsen hero cannot remain in a confined space. He or she must work their way out and come to terms with life in the open, outside the "glass case". This can succeed, but in most cases it results in destruction and death.

The book is divided up as follows:

  • A family in glass cases - Pillars of Society
  • Playing with doors - A Doll’s House
  • The stage as a greenhouse - Ghosts
  • Stones through the glass - An Enemy of the People
  • The chamberlains and the attic - The Wild Duck
  • Tug-of-war in the ancestral hall - Rosmersholm
  • The need for acclimatisation - The Lady from the Sea
  • Lavenders and salt roses - Hedda Gabler
  • A brat gets his way - The Master Builder
  • Emptiness after a drowned rodent - Little Eyolf
  • Silver chimes in the winter night - John Gabriel Borkman
  • Out of the meat-safe - When We Dead Awaken
  • Variations on the allegory

This is that rare opportunity to find out about Ibsen as a scenic artist. There is little doubt that this book will rapidly establish itself as a reference work internationally.

Asbjørn Aarseth (born 1935) is professor of Scandinavian literature at the University of Bergen. He has published the textbooks Lyrical Structures (Lyriske strukturer, 1968 and later editions) and Epic Structures (Episke strukturer, 1979), and a large number of works on Ibsen and Scandinavian literature.

Publisher: Universitetsforlaget   1999
ISBN: 82-00-12965-9
376 Pages, hardcover

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