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Ghosts

Introduction
The winter of 1879-80 Ibsen spent in Munich, and the greater part of the summer
of 1880 at Berchtesgaden. November 1880 saw him back in Rome, and he
passed the summer of 1881 at Sorrento. There, fourteen years earlier, he had
written the last acts of Peer Gynt; there he now wrote, or at any rate completed,
Gengangere. It was published in December 1881, after he had returned to Rome.
On December 22 he wrote to Ludwig Passarge, one of his German translators,
"My new play has now appeared, and has occasioned a terrible uproar in the
Scandinavian press; every day I receive letters and newspaper articles decrying
or praising it. ... I consider it utterly impossible that any German theatre will
accept the play at present. I hardly believe that they will dare to play it in the
Scandinavian countries for some time to come." How rightly he judged we shall
see anon.
In the newspapers there was far more obloquy than praise. Two men, however,
stood by him from the first: Björnson, from whom he had been practically
estranged ever since The League of Youth, and Georg Brandes. The latter
published an article in which he declared (I quote from memory) that the play
might or might not be Ibsen's greatest work, but that it was certainly his noblest
deed. It was, doubtless, in acknowledgment of this article that Ibsen wrote to
Brandes on January 3, 1882: "Yesterday I had the great pleasure of receiving
your brilliantly clear and so warmly appreciative review of Ghosts. ... All who read
your article must, it seems to me, have their eyes opened to what I meant by my
new book--assuming, that is, that they have any wish to see. For I cannot get rid
of the impression that a very large number of the false interpretations which have
appeared in the newspapers are the work of people who know better. In Norway,
however, I am willing to believe that the stultification has in most cases been
unintentional; and the reason is not far to seek. In that country a great many of
the critics are theologians, more or less disguised; and these gentlemen are, as a
rule, quite unable to write rationally about creative literature. That enfeeblement
of judgment which, at least in the case of the average man, is an inevitable
consequence of prolonged occupation with theological studies, betrays itself
more especially in the judging of human character, human actions, and human
motives. Practical business judgment, on the other hand, does not suffer so
much from studies of this order. Therefore the reverend gentlemen are very often
excellent members of local boards; but they are unquestionably our worst critics."
This passage is interesting as showing clearly the point of view from which Ibsen
conceived the character of Manders. In the next paragraph of the same letter he
discusses the attitude of "the so-called Liberal press"; but as the paragraph
 
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