Henrik Ibsen.

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II E N R I K I 15 S E N

Copyright Edition. Complete in 11 Voluimii
llmo. Price $1.00 each



Volume I. Feast of SolhauK, I^ady Inger, Love's

" II. The VikiiiRS at Helgeland, The Pro-

" III. Brand
" IV. Peer Oynt

" V. Emperor and Galilean (2 parts)
" VI. League of Youth, Pillars of Society
" VII. A Dolls House, Ghosts
" VIII. An Enemy of the People, The ^Vild

" IX. Ros mersholm, Lndy from the Sea

X. Hedda Gal.ler. :\Iaster Builder
" XI. Little Eyolf, .John Gabriel Borkman,

When We Dead Awaken





Copyright Edition






Copyright, 1907, by Charles Serihner's Sonx


Cop X



Introduction to "An Enemy of thk People" . vii

Introduction to "The Wild Duck" . - . xvii

" An Enemy of the People " 1

Translated by Mrs. Eleanor Marx-Aveling

"The Wild Duck" 189

Translated by Mrs. Frances E. Archer



From Pillars of Society to John Gabriel BorJc-
man, all Ibsen's plays, with one exception, suc-
ceeded each other at intervals of two years. The
single exception was An Enemy of the People.
The storm of obloquy which greeted Ghosts
stirred him to unwonted rapidity of production.
Ghosts had appeared in December 1881 ; already,
in the spring of 1882, Ibsen, then living in Rome,
was at work upon its successor; and he finished
it at Gossensass, in the Tyrol, in the early au-
tumn. It appeared in Copenhagen at the end
of November.

John Paulsen^ relates an anecdote of the
poet's extreme secretiveness during the process
of composition, which may find a place here:
" One summer he was travelling by rail with
his wife and son. He was engaged upon a new
play at the time; but neither Fru Ibsen nor
Sigurd had any idea as to what it was about.
Of course they were both vei-y curious. It hap-
pened that, at a station, Ibsen left the carriage
for a few moments. As he did so he dropped a

1 Samliv med Ibsen, p. 173.
* Copyright, 19o7, by Charles Scribner's Sons.


Vlll AS K.NKMV OF Till: riCOPLE,

sfniji of jiapcr. His wife picked it ui», ami read
on it only the words, ' The doctor says. . . .'
Xothin^r more. Fru Ihsen showed it laughingly
to Sigurd, and said, * Now we will tease your
father a little when he comes back. He will be
horrified to find that we know anything of his
play.' When Ibsen entered his carriage his
wife looked at him roguishly, and said, ' What
doctor is it that figures in your new piece? I
am sure he must have many interesting things
to say.' But if she could have foreseen the effect
of her innocent jest, Fru Ibsen would certainly
have held her tongue. For Ibsen was speechless
with surprise and rage. When at last he re-
covered his speech, it was to utter a torrent of
reproaches. What did this mean ? W^as he not
safe in his own house ? Was he surrounded with
spies? Had his locks been tampered with, his
desk rifled? And so forth, and so forth. His
wife, who had listened with a quiet smile to the
rising tempest of his wrath, at last handed him
the scrap of paper. * We know nothing more
than what is written upon this slip which you
let fall. Allow me to return it to you.' There
stood Ibsen crestfallen. All his suspicions had
vanished into thin air. The play on which he
was occupied proved to be An Enemy of the
People, and the doctor was none other than our
f)ld friend Stockmann, the good-hearted and
muddleheaded reformer, for whom Jonas Lie
I)artly served as a model."

The indignation which glows in An Enemy of
the People was kindled, in the main, by the atti-
tude adoi)ted towards Ghosts by the Norwegian
Liberal press and the " compact majority " it


represented. But the image on which the play
rings the changes was present to the poet's mind
before Ghosts was written. On December 19,
1879 — a fortnight after the publication of A
DolVs House — Ibsen wrote to Professor Dietrich-
son : " It appears to me doubtful whether better
artistic conditions can be attained in Norway
before the intellectual soil has been thoroughly
turned up and cleansed, and all the swamps
drained off." Here we have clearly the germ of
An Enemy of the People. The image so took
hold of Ibsen that after applying it to social
life in this play, he recurred to it in The Wild
Duck, in relation to the individual life.

The mood to which we definitely owe An
Enemy of the People appears very clearly in a
letter to George Brandes, dated January 3, 1882,
in which Ibsen thanks him for his criticism of
Ghosts. " What are we to say," he proceeds,
" of the attitude taken up by the so-called Lib-
eral press — by those leaders who speak and write
about freedom of action and thought, and at the
same time make themselves the slaves of the
supposed opinions of their subscribers? I am
more and more confirmed in my belief that
there is something demoralising in engaging in
politics and joining parties. I, at any rate, shall
never be able to join a party which has the ma-
jority on its side. Bjoi'nson says, ' The majority
is always right ' ; and as a practical politician he
is bound, I suppose, to say so. I on the con-
trary, of necessity say, ' The minority is always
right.' Naturally I am not thinking of that
minority of stagnationists who are left behind by
the great middle party, which with us is called

A N i: \ i: M V t-i I" T 1 1 1: im: o !• l i-: .

Kil»eral; I iiu'iin lliat minority wliidi leads the
van, and pushes on to i)oints wliirli the majority
has not yet reaehed. 1 hokl that that man is
in the right wlio is most closely in league with
the future."

The same letter closes with a passage which
foreshadows not only An Enemy of the People,
but liosmersholm: " When I think how slow and
heavy and dull the {general intellig-ence is at
home, when I notice the low standard by which
everything is judged, a deep despondency comes
over me, and it often seems to me that I might
just as well end my literary activity at once.
They really do not need poetry at home; they
get along so well with the Parliamentary News
and the Lutheran Weekly. And then they have
their party papers. I have not the gifts that go
to make a good citizen, nor yet the gift of ortho-
doxy; and what I possess no gift for I keep out
of. Liberty is the first and highest condition for
me. At home they do not trouble much about
liberty, but only about liberties, a few more or
a few less, according to the standpoint of their
party. I feel, too, most painfully affected hy the
crudity, the plebeian element, in all our public
discussion. The very praiseworthy attempt to
make of our people a democratic community has
inadvertently gone a good way towards making
us a plebeian community, distinction of soul
seems to be on the decline at home.!-'

So early as March 16, 1882, Ibsen announces
to his publisher that he is " fully occupied with
preparations for a new play." " This time," he
says, " it will be a peaceable production which
can be read by Ministers of State and wholes


sale mercliants and their ladies, and from which
the theatres will not be obliged to recoil. Its
execution will come very easy to me, and I shall
do my best to have it ready pretty early in the
autumn." In this he was successful. From
Gossensass on September 9.^ he wrote to Hegel:
" I have the pleasure of sending you herewith
the remainder of the manuscript of my new
play. I have enjoyed writing this piece, and I
feel quite lost and lonely now that it is out of
hand. Dr. Stockmann and I got on excellently
together; we agree on so many subjects. But the
Doctor is a more muddleheaded person than I
am, and he has, moreover, several other charac-
teristics because of which people will stand hear-
ing a good many things from him which they
might perhaps not have taken in such very good
part had they been said by me."

A letter to Brandes, written six months after
the appearance of the play (June 12, 1883), an-
swers some objection which the critic seems to
have made — of what nature we can only guess:
"As to An Enemy of the People, if we had a
chance to discuss it I think we should come to a
tolerable agreement. You are, of course, right
in urging that we must all work for the spread
of our opinions. But I maintain that a fighter
at the intellectual outposts can never gather a
majority around him. In ten years, perhaps,
the majority may occupy the standpoint which
Dr. Stockmann held at the public meeting. But
during these ten years the Doctor will not have
been standing still; he will still be at least ten
years ahead of the majority. The majority, the
mass, the multitude, can never overtake him; he


can never liave the majority \rit,h liim. As for
myself, at all events, I am conscious of this in-
cessant progression. At the point where I stood
when I wrote each of my books, there now stands
a fairly compact multitude; but I myself am
there no longer; I am elsewhere, and, I hope,
further ahead." This is a fine saying, and as
just as it is fine, with respect to the series of
social plays, down to, and including, Rnsmers-
holm. To the psychological series, which begins
with The Lady from the Sea, this law of pro-
gression scarcely applies. The standpoint in
each is different; but the movement is not so
much one of intellectual advance as of deepen-
ing spiritual insight.

As Ibsen predicted, the Scandinavian theatres
seized with avidity upon An Enemii of ihe Peo-
ple. Between January and March 1883 it was
produced in Christiania, Bergen, Stockholm, and
Copenhagen. It has always been very popular
on the stage, and was the play chosen to repre-
sent Ibsen in the series of festival performances
which inaugurated the National Theatre at
Christiania. The first evening, September 1,
1899, was devoted to llolbcrg, the great founder
of Norwegian-Danish drama; An Enemy of the
People followed on September 2; and on Sep-
tember 3 BjiJmson held the stage, with Sigurd
Jorsalfar. Oddly enough, Ein Volksfeind was
four years old before it found its way to the
German stage. It was first produced in Berlin,
March 5, 1887, and has since then been very
popular throughout (lermany. It has even been
presented at the Court Theatres of Berlin and
Vienna — a fact which seems remarkable when we


note that in France and Spain it lias been
pressed into the service of anarchism as a revo-
lutionary manifesto. When first produced in
Paris in 1895, and again in 1899, it was made
the occasion of anarchist demonstrations. It was
the play chosen for representation in Paris on
Ibsen's seventieth birthday, March 29, 1898. In
England it was first produced by Mr. Beerbolnn
Tree at the Haymarket Theatre on the after-
noon of June 14, 1893. Mr. Tree has repeated
his performance of Stockmann a good many
times in London, the provinces, and America.
He revived the play at His Majesty's Theatre
in 1905. Mr. Louis Calvert played Stockmann
at the Gentleman's Concert Hall in Manchester,
January 27, 1894. I can find no record of any
performances of the play in America, save Ger-
man performances and those given by Mr. Tree;
but it seems incredible that no American actor
should have been attracted by the part of Stock-
mann. 'Een Vijand des Volks was produced in
Holland in 1884, before it had even been ?een in
Germany and in Italy. Un Nemico del Popolo
holds a place in the repertory of the distinguished
actor Ermete Novelli.

Of all Ibsen's plays. An Enemy of the People
is the least poetical, the least imaginative, the
one which makes least appeal to our sensibilities.
Even in The League of Youth there is a touch
of poetic fancy in the character of Selmer; while
Pillars of Society is sentimentally conceived
throughout, and possesses in Martha a figure of
great, though somewhat conventional, pathos. In
this play, on the other hand, there is no appeal
either to the imagination or to the tender emo-

A N i: N i; M \ u 1 ■ r 1 1 k i' v. o i' i, k .

tions. It is a straij?htfonvard satiric comedy.
(U-aliiiK exclusively with the everyday prose of
life. We have only to compare it with its im-
mediate predecessor. Ghosts, and its immediate
successor, The Wild Duck, to feel bow absolutely
diflFerent is the imaginative effort involved in it.
Kealising this, we no longer wonder that the poet
should have thrown it off in half the time he
usually required to mature and execute one of
his creations.

Yet All Enemy of the People takes a high
place in the second rank of the Ibsen works, in
virtue of its buoyant vitality, its great technical
excellence, and the geniality of its humour. It
seems odd, at first sight, that a distinctly polem-
ical play, which took its rise in a mood of exas-
peration, should be perhaps the most amiable of
all the poet's productions. But the reason is
fairly obvious. Ibsen's nature was far too com-
plex, and far too specifically dramatic, to per-
mit of his giving anything like direct expression
to a personal mood. The very fact that Dr.
Stockmann was to utter much of his own indig-
nation and many of his own ideas forced him
to make the worthy Doctor in temperament and
manner as unlike himself as possible. Xow bois-
terous geniality, loquacity, irrepressible rashness
of utterance, and a total absence of self-criticism
and self-irony were the very contradiction of
the poet's own characteristics — at any rate, after
he had entered upon middle life. He doubtless
looked round for models who should be his own
antipodes in these respects. John Paulsen, as
we have seen, thinks that he took many traits


from Jonas Lie ; others say ' that one of his chief
models was an old friend named Harald Thau-
low, the father of the great painter. Be this as
it may, the very effort to disguise himself natu-
rally led him to attribute to his protagonist and
mouthpiece a great superficial amiability. I am
far from implying that Ibsen's own character
was essentially unamiable; it would ill become
one whom he always treated with the utmost
kindness to say or think anything of the kind.
But his amiability was not superficial, effusive,
exuberant; it seldom reached that boiling-point
which we call geniality; and for that very rea-
son Thomas Stockmann became the most genial
of his characters. He may be called Ibsen's
Colonel Newcome. We have seen from the let-
ter to Hegel (p. xi) that the poet regarded him
with much the same ironic affection which
Thackeray must have felt for that other Thomas
who, amid many differences, had the same sim-
ple-minded, large-hearted, child-like nature.

In technical quality. An Enemy of the People
is wholly admirable. We have only to compare
it with Pillars of Society, the last play in which
Ibsen had painted a broad satiric picture of the
life of a Norwegian town, to feel how great an
advance he had made in the intervening five
years. In naturalness of exposition, suppleness
of development, and what may be called general
untheatricality of treatment the later play has
every possible* advantage over the earlier. In
one point only can it be said that Ibsen has

* See article by Julius Elias in Die neue Rundschati, De-
cember 1906, p. 1461.

X VI A N K N K M V (» K T 11 K I' Ko 1' h K

allowed a touch of artificiality to creep in. In
order to render the peripetia of the third act
more striking, he has made Hovstad, Billing,
and Aslaksen, in the earlier scenes, unnaturally
inajiprchcnsive of the sacrifices implied in Stock-
mann's scheme of reform. It is scarcely cred-
ible that they should be so free and emphatic in
their offers of support to the Doctor's aKitation,
before they have lAade the smallest inquiry as
to what it is likely to cost the town. They think,
it may be said, that the shareholders of the
Baths will have to bear the whole expense; but
surely some misgivings could not but cross their
minds as to whether the shareholders would be
prepared to do so.



The first mention of The Wild Duck (as yet un-
named) occurs in a letter from Ibsen to George
Brandes, dated Eome, June 12, 1883, some six
months after the appearance oi An Enemy of
the People. " I am revolving in my mind just
now," he says, " the plan of a new dramatic
work in four acts. From time to time a variety
of whimsies gathers in one's mind, and one wants
to find an outlet for them. But as the play will
neither deal with the Supreme Court nor with
the Absolute Veto, nor even with the Pure Flag,
it can hardly count upon attracting much at-
tention in Norway. Let us hope, however, that
it may find a hearing elsewhere." The allusion
in this passage is to the great constitutional
struggle of 1880-84, of which some account will
have to be given in the Introduction to Ros-
mersholm. The " Pure Flag " agitation aimed
at, and obtained, the exclusion from the Nor-
wegian flag of the mark of union with Sweden,
and was thus a preliminary step towards the
severance of the two kingdoms. The word which

* Copyright, 1907, by Charles Scribner's Sons.



I have translated " whimsies " is in the ori^Lual
gahkaber, which might be literally rendered
" mad fancies " or " crazy notions." This word,
or gnlsk-ab in the singular, was Ibsen's favourite
term for his conceptions as they grew up in his
mind. I well remember his saying to me, while
he was engaged on The Lady from the Sea,
" 1 hope to have some tomfoolery [galskab] ready
for next year." Sometimes he would vary the
expression and say djcevelsJcah, or "devilry."

Of this particular "tomfoolery" we hear no
more for a full year. Then, at the end of June,
1884, he writes in almost identical terms to
Brandcs and to Theodor Caspari, announcing its
completion in the rough. His letter to Caspari
is dated Rome, June 27. " All last winter," he
says, " I have been pondering over some new
whimsies, and have wrestled with them till at
last they took dramatic form in a five-act play
which I have just completed. That is to say, I
have completed the rough draft of it. Now
comes the more delicate elaboration, the more
energetic individualisation of the characters and
their methods of expression. In order to find the
requisite quiet and solitude for this work, I am
going in a few days to Gossensass, in the Tyrol."
This little glimpse into his workshop is particu-
larly interesting.

From Gossensass he wrote to Hegel on Sep-
tember 2: "Herewith I send you the manuscript
of my new play, The Wild Duck, which has occu-
pied me daily for the past four months, and from
which I cannot part without a sense of regret.
The characters in this play, despite their many
frailties, have, in the course of our long daily


association, endeared themselves to me. How-
ever, I hope they will also find good and kind
friends among the great reading public, and not
least among the player-folk, to whom they all,
without exception, offer problems worth the solv-
ing. But the study and presentation of these
personages will not be easy. . . . This new play
in some ways occupies a place apart among my
dramatic productions; its method of develop-
ment [literally, of advance] is in many respects
divergent from that of its predecessors. But for
the present I shall say no more on this subject.
The critics will no doubt discover the points in
question; at all events, they will find a good
deal to wrangle about, a good deal to interpret.
Moreover, I think The Wild Duch may perhaps
lure some of our younger dramatists into new
paths, and this I hold to be desirable."

The play was published on November 11, 1884,
and was acted at all the leading theatres of Scan-
dinavia in January or February, 1885. Ibsen's
estimate of its acting value was fully justified.
It everywhere proved itself immensely effective
on the stage, and Hialmar, Gina, and Hedvig
have made, or greatly enhanced, the reputation
of many an actor and actress. Hialmar was one
of the chief successes of Emil Poulsen, the lead-
ing Danish actor of his day, who placed the sec-
ond act of The Wild Duck in the programme of
his farewell performance. It took more than
three years for the play to reach the German
stage. It was first acted in Berlin in March
1888; but thereafter it rapidly spread through-
out Germany and Austria, and everywhere took
firm hold. It was on several occasions, and in


various cities, selected for performance in Ib-
sen's presence, as representing the best that
the local theatre could do. In Paris it was
produced at the Theatre Libre in 1891, and
was pronounced by Francisque Sarcey to be
" obscure, incoherent, insupportable," but never-
theless to leave " a profound impression." In
London it was first produced by the Independent
Theatre Society on May 4, 1894, Mr. W. L.
Abingdon playing Ilialmar, and Miss Winifred
Fraser giving a delightful performance of Hed-
vig. The late Clement Scott's pronouncement on
it was that "to make a fuss about so feeble a
production was to insult dramatic literature and
to outrage common sense." It was repeated at
the Globe Theatre in May, 1897, with Mr. Lau-
rence Irving as Hialmar and Miss Fraser again
as Iledvig. In October 1905 it was revived at
the Court Theatre, with Mr. Granville Barker as
Hialmar and Miss Dorothy Minto as Hedvig.
Of American performances I find no record. It
has been acted in Italy and in Greece, I know
not with what success. The fact that it has no
part for a " leading lady " has rendered it less
of an international stock-piece than A DolVs
House, Hedda Gahler, or even Rosmersholm.

There can be no doubt that The Wild Duck
marks a reaction in the poet's mood, following
upon the eager vivacity wherewith, in An Enemy
of the People, he had flung his defiance at the
" compact Liberal majority," which, as the recep-
tion of Ghosts had proved, could not endure to
be told the truth. Having said his say and lib-
erated his soul, he now began to ask himself
whether human nature was, after all, capa ble of


assimilating the strong' meat of truth — whethei*
illusion might not be, for the average man, the
only thing that could make life livabl e. It
would be too much to say that the play gives a
generally affirmative answer to this question.
On the contrary, its last lines express pretty
clearly the poet's firm conviction that if life
cannot reconcile its elf with t ruth, then life
may as welT go to the wall. Nevertheless his
very devotion to trutK forces him to realise and
admit that it is an antitoxin which, rashly in-
jected at wrong times or in wrong doses, maj^
produce disastrous results. It ought not to be
indiscriminately administered by " quacksal-

Gregers Werle is unquestionably a piece of
ironic self-portraiture. In his habit of " pester-
ing people, in their poverty, with the claim of
the ideal," the poet adumbrates his own conduct
from Brand onwards, but especially in Ghosts
and An Enemy of the People. Relling, again,
is an embodiment of the mood which was dom-
inant during the conception of the play — the
mood of pitying contempt for that poor thing
human nature, as embodied in Hialmar. An '^ ^
actor who, in playing the part of Relling made
up as Ibsen himself, has been blamed for hav-
ing committed a fault not only of taste, but
of interpretation, since Gregers (it is main-
tained) is the true Ibsen. But the fact is that
both characters represent the poet. They em-
body the struggle in his mind between idealism
and cynical despondency. There can be no doubt,
however, that in some measure he consciously
identified himself with Gregers. In a letter to

xxii Tin; wu.i) nucK,

Mr. Go8se, written in 1872, he had employed in
his own person the very phra.se, den ideale ford-
ring — " the chiini of the ideal " — whieh is (Ireg-
er's watchword. The use of this sufficiently ob-
vious phrase, however, does not mean much. Far
stronger evidence of identilication is afforded by
John Paulsen ' in some anecdotes he relates of
Ibsen's habits of " self-help " — evidence which
we may all the more safely accept, as Herr Paul-
sen seems to have been unconscious of its bear-

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