Henrik Ibsen.

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of California












Copifftqitt tan by M Thj).







Copyright, 1911, by Charles Scribner's Sons





Translated by A. G. Chatek

A doll's house 89

Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chatek


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chater


Translated by A. G. Chateb






house" 142






This volume contains all the notes, sketches, drafts,
and other "foreworks" (as he used to call them) for
Ibsen's plays from Pillars of Society onwards. They
were published in Scandinavia and Germany in 1909,
under the editorship of those learned and devoted Ibsen
scholars, Halvdan Koht and Julius Elias. They occu-
pied somewhat less than one-half of the three volumes
of the poet's Efterladte Skrifter, or (to use the consecrated
but somewhat unfortunate English phrase) his Literary
Remains. The other contents of these three volumes are
of great interest for special students of Ibsen's biography;
but not until the period of his modern plays is reached do
his drafts and jottings assume what may be called world-
wide importance. The papers here translated throw in-
valuable light upon the genesis of his ideas and the de-
velopment of his technique. They are an indispensable
aid to the study of his intellectual processes during that
part of his career which made him world-famous.

The first volume of the Norwegian edition is very
varied in its contents. About half of it is occupied by
early poems, including the boyish verses to Hungary and
to King Oscar, written about 1848, which were proba-
bly the "first heirs of his invention." Most of the con-
tents of this section are occasional pieces — prologues,



student songs, etc. — but in some of the lyrics we find the
germs of ideas to which he afterwards gave more finished
form. Then come some miscellaneous prose pieces, rang-
ing from one or two of his school themes, which have
somehow been preserved, to the singularly laconic and
unrhetorical speeches of his later years.^ The remaining
pages are given up to hitherto unpublished plays and
dramatic fragments, dating from the 'fifties and early
'sixties. The most important of these is the romantic
comedy St. John's Night, produced in Bergen, January
2, 1853. This very youthful but not uninteresting play
was known to exist in manuscript, and had been described
by Ibsen's biographers; but, during his lifetime, he had
not suffered it to be printed. It is a vivacious and really
imaginative piece of work, containing foretastes both of
Love's Comedy and of Peer Gynt. Its culminating scene
is a midnight revel of fairy folk, which is witnessed by
two pairs of mortal lovers. The pair who are really in
touch with nature and with things elemental, see it as
it is, while the conventional and affected romanticists
take it for a dance of peasants around a bonfire. We
have here the germ of several passages in the poet's ma-
turer work. Another item of interest in the first volume
is a fragment entitled Svanhild, being the first sketch, in
prose, of what afterwards became Love's Comedy.^ Ib-
sen said that he abandoned this form because he had not
yet the art of writing modern prose dialogue. I should
rather be disposed to say that he had not a theme adapted

* Even his entries in the complaint-book of the Scandinavian Club
in Rome are piously included.

* See Professor Herford's introduction to that play.


for treatment in prose. There is practically no action
in the play — none of that complex interweaving of the
past with the present, and of event with character, which
afterwards formed the substance of his art. We have
only a group of people expressing certain ideas on life and
love — ideas which naturally tend to shape themselves in
lyric or satiric verse. The form, in short, was indicated
by the lack of substance. The theme was a very thin
one, which needed the starch of metre.

The second volume of the Nbrwegian edition opens
with the so-called "epic Brand" — the fragment of a
narrative version of Brand, which is described by Profes-
sor Herford in his Introduction to that play.^ Then come
sundry chips from the workshop in which Brand and
Peer Gynt were wrought to perfection. In the Peer Gynt
fragments there are one or two points of interest, to which
I have alluded in my Introduction.^ The preliminary
sketches for The League of Youth are of small importance,
except in so far as they show that the play grew and de-
veloped very little in the course of incubation. Far more
interesting are the long scenarios and drafts which pre-
ceded the final form of Emperor and Galilean. A pretty
full account of them may be found in my Introduction to
the "world-historic drama.'" This brings us down to
Pillars of Society and to the sketches and drafts included
in the present volume.

Whatever he may have been in youth, Henrik Ibsen,
in maturity and age, was the most reticent of artists. It
is said, I believe with truth, that even his wife and son
knew nothing of what he was meditating and hatching

' Vol. II., p. 4. » Vol. IV., p. 14. 3 Vol. v., p. 13.


out, until each new play was polished to the last syllable.
In the Introduction to An Enemy of the People may be
found an anecdote of his apparently disproportionate
anger when he learned that some loose scrap of paper
had revealed the fact that the hero of the play on which
he was then engaged was to be a doctor. In his corre-
spondence he never indicates or discusses the themes
which are occupying him, except when he is asking for
historical material to be used in Emperor and Galilean.
So far as my own experience went, he never said more of
his work than that he was "preparing some devilment
for next year." I remember, too, that, when he was en-
gaged on When We Dead Awaken, he told me that he
thought of describing it as "An Epilogue."

It seems like an irony of fate that this ultra-secretive
craftsman, so jealous of the privacy of his workroom,
should, after death, have all his pigeon-holes ransacked,
and even the contents of his waste-paper basket, one
might say, given to the world. At first sight this may
seem like a profanation; but on looking into the matter
we find no just cause for sentimental regret. If Ibsen
had been violently averse from any posthumous study
of his methods, he had safety in his own hands — he
could always have destroyed his papers. He seems, on
the contrary, to have treasured them with considerable
care. The drafts and experiments for his romantic plays
(Lady Inger, The Vikings, and The Pretenders) were
scattered in a sale of his effects after he left Norway, in
1864, and have not yet been recovered. He was very
angry when he heard of their dispersal ; but he was prob-
ably not thinking of the loss to posterity. What he re-


sented at the time, no doubt, was the thought that un-
known and irreverent persons might be prying into his
secrets while he lived. Was he, perhaps, recalling this
experience when he made Lovborg, in Hedda Gabler,
speak so bitterly of the possible profanation of his lost
manuscript? Be this as it may, we find that not even
the wandering life which he led for so many years inter-
fered with his habit of treasuring up the chips from his
workshop. It will be seen that this volume contains
"foreworks" of more or less importance for all his plays
from Pillars of Society onwards, with the single exception
of An Enemy of the People. We do not know what has
become of the sketches and studies for this play. He
produced it in half the time that he usually gave to the
ripening of a dramatic creation, and seems, indeed, to
have thrown it off with unusual facility and gusto. Still,
it is difiicult to suppose that he dispensed altogether with
preliminary notes and jottings. We must rather conclude
that they have been accidentally lost or destroyed.

As he carefully preserved his papers, and as he left his
executors a free hand to deal with them as they thought
fit, they would have done the world a great wrong had
they decided to suppress documents of such unique in-
terest. Nowhere else, so far as I am aware, do we obtain
so clear a view of the processes of a great dramatist's
mind. There is something of the same interest, no
doubt, in a comparison of the early quartos of Romeo
and Juliet and Hamlet with the completed plays; but
in these cases we cannot decide with any certainty how
far the incompleteness of the earlier versions represents
an actual phase in the growth of the plays, and how far


it is due to the bad stenography of the playhouse pirates.
In Ibsen's manuscripts we can actually follow the growth
of an idea in his mind; distinguish what is original and
fundamental in his conception from accretions and after-
thoughts; see him straying into blind alleys and trying
back again; and estimate the faultless certainty of taste
with which he strengthened weak points in his fabric,
and rejected the commonplace in favour of the rare and
unforgettable. Not once, I think, is a scene or a trait
suppressed which ought to have been preserved; not
once is a speech altered for the worse. Sometimes, in-
deed, we find him using absolutely commonplace ideas
and phrases which he must have known to be tempo-
rary makeshifts, awaiting transfiguration at a later stage.
How much he relied upon the final revision of his work
is apparent from a curious expression of which he makes
use in a letter to Theodor Caspari, dated Rome, 27th
June, ISS^, "I have just completed a play in five
acts," he says; and then adds: " that is to say, the rough
draft of it; now comes the elaboration, the more ener-
getic individualisation of the persons and their modes
of expression." The play in question was The Wild
Duck. Any one who compares the draft in the follow-
ing pages with the finished play will see that what Ibsen
called "elaboration" amounted, at some points, almost
to reinvention.

In the Introductions to the various plays, in the Sub-
scription edition, I have pretty fully compared the earlier
with the final forms. As the reader has now before him
the complete text of the sketches and drafts, and can make
the comparison for himself, it will be sufiicient if I briefly


direct his attention to some of the most significant fea-
tures of these "foreworks."


Of this play we have three brief and fragmentary sce-
narios, two almost complete drafts of the first act, an al-
most entirely rejected draft of the beginning of the second
act, and large fragments of a draft of the fourth act.

Here we at once discover that Ibsen was not one of the
playwrights who have their plays clearly mapped out be-
fore they put pen to paper. Even in the second draft of
the first act, he is still fumbling around after his char-
acters and their relations. That the actual plot was still
obscure to him while he was writing the first draft ap-
pears from several indications. It is only in the second
draft that the reappearance of Johan and Lona causes
Bernick to display any uneasiness. Moreover we find
in the first draft that " Madam Dorf," Dina's mother, is
still alive, and that Dina is in the habit of paying her
surreptitious visits; whence we may assume that the
light to be thrown on Bernick's past was in some way
intended to proceed from her. While she was alive, at
any rate, Bernick would scarcely try to suppress the
scandal by sending Johan and his documents to sea in a
coffin-ship. This could not occur to him while the best
witness to the true state of affairs was living at his very
doors. Thus we see that the actual intrigue of the play
was a rather late after-thought.

A prominent character in both drafts of the first act is
Bernick's blind mother, who has disappeared from the


finished play. Mads Tonnesen, nicknamed "the Bad-
ger," the father of ISIrs. Bernick, Johan and Hilmar,
was destined to drop out of this play, and to reappear,
under the name of Morten Kiil, in An Enemy of the
People. The business of the railway is taken up at a
much later stage in the completed play than in the drafts
— a good instance of the condensation to which Ibsen
invariably subjected his work. Another instance may be
found in the treatment of Johan Tonnesen and Lona
Hessel. In the first draft they are not half brother and
sister, but only, it would seem, distant cousins; they
have not been together in America; and it is by pure
chance that they arrive on the same day. The farcical
scene at the end of the first act in this draft may perhaps
be taken as showing that Ibsen at first thought of giving
the whole play a lighter tone of colouring than that which
he ultimately adopted. Perhaps he conceived it rather
as a companion-piece to The League of Youth than as a
new departure on the path that was to lead him so far.


Of A DolVs House we possess a first brief memoran-
dum, a fairly detailed scenario, a complete draft, in quite
actable form, and a few detached fragments of dialogue.
The complete draft is perhaps the most valuable of all
the documents contained in this volume, since it shows
us how, at a point at which many dramatists would have
been more than content to write " Finis," the most char-
acteristic part of Ibsen's work was only about to begin.

It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that all the traits


which have most deeply impressed themselves on the
public mind, and which constitute the true individual-
ity of the play, prove to have been introduced during
the process of revision. This assertion the reader must
verify for himself, by a comparison of the texts: I will
merely enumerate a few of the traits of which the draft
contains no indication. In the first act, the business of
the macaroons is not even suggested; there is none of
the charming talk about the Christmas tree and the chil-
dren's presents; no request on Nora's part that her
present may take the form of money, no indication on
Helmer's part that he regards her supposed extrava-
gance as an inheritance from her father. It is notable
throughout that neither Helmer's sestheticism nor the
sensual element in his relation to Nora is nearly so much
emphasised as in the completed play; while Nora's
tendency to small fibbing — that vice of the unfree —
scarcely appears at all. In the first scene with Dr. Rank,
there is no indication either of the doctor's ill health or
of his pessimism : it seems as though he had at first been
designed as a mere confidant. In the draft, Nora, Hel-
mer, and Rank discuss the case of Krogstad in a dis-
passionate way before Nora has learnt how vital it is
to her. An enormous improvement was effected by the
suppression of this untimely passage, which discounted
the effect of the scene at the end of the act. That scene
is not materially altered in the final version; but the
first version contains no hint of the business of decorat-
ing the Christmas tree, or of Nora's wheedling Helmer
by pretending to need his aid in devising her costume
for the fancy-dress ball. Indeed this ball has not yet


entered Ibsen's mind. He thinks of it first as a chil-
dren's party.

In the second act there is no scene with Mrs. Linden
in which she remonstrates with Nora for having (as she
thinks) borrowed money from Dr. Rank, and so sug-
gests to her the idea of applying to him for aid. In the
scene with Helmer, we miss, among other characteristic
traits, his confession that the ultimate reason why he
cannot keep Krogstad in the bank is that Krogstad, as
an old schoolfellow, is so tactless as to tutoyer him.
When Rank enters, he speaks to Helmer and Nora to-
gether of his failing health: it is an immeasurable im-
provement which transfers this passage, in a carefully
polished form, to his scene with Nora alone. Of the fa-
mous silk-stocking scene — that curious side light on Nora's
relations with Helmer — there is not a trace. There is
no hint of Nora's appeal to Rank for help, nipped in the
bud by his declaration of love for her. All these ele-
ments we find in the second draft of the scene. In this
draft. Rank says, " Helmer himself might quite well know
every thought I have ever had of you; he shall know them
when I am gone." If Ibsen had retained this speech it
mif'ht have sa\^d much critical misunderstanding of a
perfectly harmless episode. Even when the end of the
second act is reached, Ibsen has not yet conceived the
idea of the fancy-ball and the rehearsal of the tarantella.
It is not a very admirable invention, but it is at any rate
better than the strained and arbitrary incident which, in
the draft, brings the act to a close.

Very noteworthy is the compression and simplification
to which Ibsen has subjected the earlier scenes of the


third act. In the draft, they are clumsy and straggHng.
The scene between Helmer, Nora and Rank has abso-
lutely none of the subtlety and tragic intensity which
it has acquired in the finished form. To compare the
two versions is to see a perfect instance of the transmuta-
tion of dramatic prose into dramatic poetry. There is in
the draft no indication either of Helmer's being warmed
with wine, or of the excitement of the senses which gives
the final touch of tragedy to Nora's despair. The pro-
cess of the action in the final scene is practically the
same in both versions; but everywhere the revision has
given a sharper edge to things. In the draft, for instance,
when Krogstad's letter has lifted the weight of appre-
hension from Helmer's mind, he cries, "You are saved,
Nora, you are saved!" In the revised form, Ibsen has
cruelly altered this into "I am saved, Nora, I am saved!"
Finally, we have to note that Nora's immortal repartee,
" Millions of women have done so," was an after-thought.
Was there ever a more brilliant one ?


Of the studies for Ghosts only a few brief fragments
have been preserved. The most important of these are
mere casual memoranda, some of them written on the
back of an envelope addressed to " Madame Ibsen, 75
via Capo le Case, Citta (that is to say, Rome). These
memoranda fall into six sections, of which the fourth and
fifth seem to have as much bearing on other plays — for
instance, on ^n Enemy of the People and The Lady from
the Sea — as on Ghosts. I should take them rather for


detached jottings than for notes specially referring to that


The drafts of The Wild Duck, though rather fragmen-
tary, are very interesting and important. They show that
the general outline of the play was pretty well established
from an early stage; but they also show it to have been
enormously enriched in detail in the final revision. This
is particularly notable in the character of Hedvig. In
the drafts, she is a quite commonplace girl ; all the deli-
cacy and beauty of the character, which make her fate so
heart-rending, was added during that process of "energetic
individualisation" to which the poet refers in his letter to
Caspari. It is worth noting, too, that in all these drafts
there is no allusion either to old Werle's weak eyes or to
Hedvig's threatened blindness: that idea, which at once
helped out the plot of the play, added to the pathos of
Hedvig's figure, and illustrated Hialmar's selfishness in
allowing her to strain her eyes over the retouching which
he himself ought to have done, was entirely an after-
thought. An idea which presents itself in a rudimentary
form in the first draft is that of Hialmar Ekdal's " inven-
tion" — here called his "problem." The later develop-
ment of this wonderful " invention " forms a very good
specimen of Ibsen's method. Everywhere, on a close
comparison of the texts, we see an intensive imagination
lighting up, as it were, what was at first somewhat cold
and colourless. In this case, as in many others, the draft
suggests a transparency before the electricity has been
switched on.



We can trace this play to its completion from a verv
embryonic form. It is clear that, when the poet jotted
down the earliest memorandum, he had as vet no idea of
the tragedy of Rebecca's relation to Beata; for he could
scarcely have described as "somewhat unscrupulous" a
woman who, under the mask of friendship, goaded an-
other to suicide. Rosmer, we see, was to have had two
daughters; but they soon disappeared from this play, to
reappear as Boletta and Hilda Wangel in Tlie Lady from
the Sea.

The drafts of Rosmershohn afford a good example of
the way in which Ibsen almost always fumbled around
for the names of his characters. It is fortunate that
Rebecca did not eventually retain the name of "Miss
Badeck," which would have lent itself, in English, to
somewhat too facile pleasantries of the type in vooue
among " Anti-Ibsenite" critics of the 'nineties. At one
stage in the incubation of the play, we find Rebecca
figuring as "Mrs. Rosmer"; but she very soon, so to
speak, comes unmarried again. The student of tech-
nique may learn a valuable lesson in noting the improve-
ment effected in the finished play by the transference of
Rosmer's confession of his change of faith from the second
act to the first. Another point worth noting is the fact
that in the first draft of the first Brendel scene we find
Brendel coming forward as a champion of land-nation-
alisation, and greatly disappointed on learning that he
has been anticipated in a well-known book — an allu-


sion, no doubt, to Henry George's Progress and Poverty.
Ibsen showed his usual fine instinct in abandoning
this idea.


The sketches and drafts of The Lady from the Sea
show that the theme was a good deal modified in the
course of incubation. Wangel, as at first conceived,
was entirely different, both in character and in profes-
sion, from the Wangel of the finished play. Several char-
acters appear in the original jottings who have disap-
peared from the play as we know it: among them one
who was treasured up for seventeen years, to come to
life ultimately as the delightful Foldal of John Gabriel
Borhman. The story of Ellida was much more com-
monplace in its original conception than it eventually
became — it "suffered a sea change Into something rich
and strange." But the most remarkable fact which the
"foreworks" bring to light is that Arnholm and the
Stranger were formed by the scission, so to speak, of
one character, denominated the "Strange Passenger" —
possibly not without a certain reference to the person-
age of that name in Peer Gynt.


Almost the first germs of Hedda Gabler seem to have
come to the poet in the form of scraps of dialogue, roughly
jotted down. In his original conception, Tesman was
to have been much more of an active intermediary be-
tween Hedda and Lovborg than he became in the end.
It was Tesman who, at her instigation, was to lure


Lovborg to Brack's orgy; and it was apparently Tes-
man who was actually to make away with, or misappro-
priate, Lovborg's manuscript. Both Tesman and Mrs.
Elvsted were to have known much more of the former
"comradeship" between Lovborg and Hedda than they
do in the play. There is no hint of any " Mademoiselle
Diana" in the draft: when Hedda asks Mrs. Elvsted
who the woman is whom Lovborg cannot forget, she re-
plies point-blank, "It is yourself, Hedda." Mrs. Elv-
sted's luxuriant hair and Hedda's jealousy of it are after-
thoughts; so is the famous conception of Lovborg "with

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