Despite this fundamental transition, certain themes remain constant throughout Ibsen's work; the horror of self-betrayal, the destruction of joy and freedom by duty and convention and, above all, the sacredness of truth. This is of particular signifigance in these plays, in which self-deceit is viewed as tantamount to self-destruction. The reduction of the plot and action of the plays serves to illuminate the solitary and spiritual nature of the characters and emphasizes their inner conflicts. This move towards a theatrical exploration of the human mind allies the playwright more with the modern novelist than with the prevailing dramatic tradition and, in the words of Una Ellis-Fermor, demonstrates his "noblest thought and finest dramatic art".
Showing his development from dramas of societal conflict to vivid portrayals of psychological turmoil, Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts and Other Plays is translated with an introduction by Una Ellis-Fermor in Penguin Classics.
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 depicts a powerful man whose illusions collapse in the face of a young woman's courageous common sense. In Rosmersholm, an idealist is forced to question his beliefs and confront terrible truths about the past, while Little Eyolf 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, a dying woman returns to reclaim the affections and loyalty of her nephew, resulting in a bitter struggle with her sister.
Una Ellis-Fermor's lucid translation does full justice to Ibsen's naturalistic dialogue. In her introduction, she discusses the themes of truth, freedom with responsibility, love and innocence that connect these four works, and examines each play in detail.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Henrik Ibsen was born at Skien in Norway in 1828. He was one of the earliest writers to dramatise the individual's alienation from society. Although never fully appreciated during his lifetime, he has since come to be recognised as one of the greatest dramatists and the 'Father of Modern Drama'.
Una Ellis-Fernor has also translated other Ibsen works for the Penguin Classics.
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