Ibsen’s “Ghosts” of long dead values


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Like Ginsberg, Ibsen might be stuck in the social problems of his time. It’s the timeless and strange aspects of great writers which allow them to translate across generations.

    But, going deeper, as you hint at, we may only think we’re past those social ills.Report

  2. Avatar Mopey Duns says:

    It is interesting how the function Ibsen performs for us as a modern audience is so very different from his original intent. Mind you, the change in worldview represents his triumph, so it is hard to think that this would displease him.

    One does wonder if the same vices would attract his ire today, however.Report

  3. Avatar J.L. Wall says:

    I actually haven’t read or seen any of Ibsen’s plays (though I do have a volume I picked up for a buck when Borders was closing, and I do know that Joyce thought he could translate him, so that counts for something, right?) so almost all of my experience with Ibsen comes from the 30-minute tangent a Greek professor of mine went off on while we were supposed to be talking about Sophokles/reading the Trachiniae.  (This–though not necessarily Ibsen–happened frequently, sometimes to better or worse effect.)  He got to Ibsen by responding to one of my classmates coming too close to reading Antigone as a (proto?)feminist text:  Ibsen (A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler, I believe) were brought in as examples not of misreading texts as feminist (well, this was a minor part of the argument) but of a greater habit of misreading texts by mapping them onto the contemporary world and finding confirmation of our own beliefs in them.

    This is something I worry about frequently — and while Louis Zukofsky may kill me by the end of the month, I think he might just, in the meantime, teach me how to detect my own literary confirmation bias pretty effectively.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I think Ibsen once said he was interested in people struggling against the terms of their lives and not at all in their freeing themselves, which might speak to that.

      Honestly, I prefer Strindberg over Ibsen, although it might not be totally appropriate to make the comparison in the first place.Report