Books

A Doll's House and Other Plays

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

Four of Ibsen's most important plays in superb modern translations, part of the new Penguin Ibsen series.

With her assertion that she is 'first and foremost a human being', Nora Helmer sent shockwaves throughout Europe when she appeared in Ibsen's greatest and most famous play, A Doll's House. Depicting one woman's struggle to be treated as a rational human being, and not merely a wife, mother or fragile doll, the play changed the course of theatrical history and sparked debates worldwide about the roles of men and women in society. Ibsen's follow-up Ghosts was no less radical, with its unrelenting investigation into religious hypocrisy, family secrets and sexual double-dealing. These two masterpieces are accompanied here by The Pillars of the Community and An Enemy of the People, both set in Norwegian coastal towns and exploring the tensions and dark compromises at the heart of society.

The new Penguin series of Ibsen's major plays offer the best available editions in English, under the general editorship of Tore Rem. The plays have been freshly translated by the best modern translators and are based on the recently published, definitive Norwegian edition of Ibsen's works. They all include new introductions and editorial apparatus by leading scholars.

Peer Gynt and Brand

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

A new Penguin edition of Ibsen's two great verse plays, in masterful versions by one of our greatest living poets, Geoffrey Hill.

These two powerful and contrasting verse dramas by Ibsen made his reputation as a playwright. The fantastical adventures of the irrepressible Peer Gynt - poet, idler, procrastinator, seducer - draw on Norwegian folklore to conjure up mountains, kidnappings, shipwrecks and trolls in an exuberant examination of truth and the self; while Brand, an unsparing vision of an idealistic priest who lives by his steely faith, explores free will and sacrifice. This volume brings together the poet Geoffrey Hill's acclaimed stage version of Brand with a new poetic rendering of Peer Gynt, published for the first time.

This Penguin edition includes an interview with Geoffrey Hill about recreating Ibsen in English, an introduction by Janet Garton and editorial materials by Tore Rem.

The Master Builder and Other Plays

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

Ibsen's greatest late plays in superb modern translations, part of the new Penguin Ibsen series.

This volume includes The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, John Gabriel Borkman and When We Dead Awaken - Ibsen's last four plays, written in his old age in Oslo. In The Master Builder, a married, middle-aged architect becomes bewitched by a strange young woman who claims to have known him for years. A sudden death in Little Eyolf is the catalyst that drives a couple into a greater understanding of themselves. In John Gabriel Borkman, a banker recently released from prison must choose between his wife and her sister, while a sculptor on holiday is reunited with the woman who inspired his greatest art in When We Dead Awaken.

The new Penguin series of Ibsen's major plays offer the best available editions in English, under the general editorship of Tore Rem. All the plays have been freshly translated by leading translators and are based on the definitive Norwegian edition of Ibsen's works. This volume includes an introduction by Toril Moi on the themes of death and human limitation in the plays, and additional editorial apparatus by Tore Rem.

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is often called 'the Father of Modern Drama'. Born in the small Norwegian town of Skien, he left Norway in 1864 for a twenty-one-year long voluntary exile in Italy and Germany. After successes with the verse dramas Brand and Peer Gynt, he turned to prose, writing his great twelve-play cycle of society dramas between 1877 and 1899. This included The Pillars of Society, A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, The Lady from the Sea, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, John Gabriel Borkman, and, finally, When We Dead Awaken. Ibsen returned to Norway in 1891 and died there at the age of seventy-eight.

Barbara J. Haveland and Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife are both freelance literary translators.

Toril Moi is Professor of English, Theater Studies and Philosophy at Duke University. Her books include Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism (2006).

Tore Rem is Professor of British literature at the University of Oslo and author of Henry Gibson/Henrik Ibsen (2006).

The Master Builder and Other Plays

Henrik Ibsen

The four plays in this volume, written late in Ibsen's career as a dramatist, move away from his earlier preoccupation with people at odds with society to instead explore the inward struggle with their own thoughts, feelings and dreams. The Master Builder (1892) depicts a powerful man whose illusions collapse in the face of a young woman's courageous common sense. In Rosmersholm (1886), an idealist is forced to question his beliefs and confront terrible truths about the past, while Little Eyolf (1894) portrays a man's self-deception, which brings both tragic repercussions for his family and new hope for their future. And in John Gabriel Borkman (1896), a dying woman returns to reclaim the affections and loyalty of her nephew, resulting in a bitter struggle with her sister.

Hedda Gabler and Other Plays

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

In these three unforgettably intense plays, Henrik Ibsen explores the problems of personal and social morality that he perceived in the world around him and, in particular, the complex nature of truth. The Pillars of the Community (1877) depicts a corrupt shipowner’s struggle to hide the sins of his past at the expense of another man’s reputation, while in The Wild Duck (1884) an idealist, believing he must tell the truth at any cost, destroys a family by exposing the lie behind his friend’s marriage. And Hedda Gabler (1890) portrays an unhappily married woman who is unable to break free from the conventional life she has created for herself, with tragic results for the entire family.

Brand

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

The story of a minister driven by faith to risk the death of his wife and child, Brand pits a man of vision against the forces of ignorance and venality.

A Doll's House and Other Plays

Henrik Ibsen (and others)

The League of Youth (1869) was Ibsen's first venture into realistic social drama and marks a turning-point in his style. By 1879 Ibsen was convinced that women suffer an inevitable violation of their personalities within the context of marriage. In A Doll's House he portrayed the wife struggling to break free: this was unheard of at the time and Ibsen's play caused a sensation. Continuing the theme of tensions within the family in The Lady from the Sea, Ibsen put forward the view that freedom with responsibility might at least be a step in the right direction.

Biography

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is often called 'the Father of Modern Drama'. Born in Norway, he left his homeland in 1864 for a 21-year long voluntary exile in Italy and Germany. After successes with the verse dramas Brand and Peer Gynt, he turned to prose, writing his great 12-play cycle of society dramas between 1877 and 1899. This included A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, and, finally, When We Dead Awaken.