Henrik Ibsen, Edmund Gosse

Henrik Ibsen

Numerous and varied as have been the analyses of Ibsen's works published, in all languages, since the completion of his writings, there exists no biographical study which brings together, on a general plan, what has been recorded of his adventures as an author. Hitherto the only accepted Life of Ibsen has been Et literaert Livsbillede, published in 1888 by Henrik Jaeger; of this an English translation was issued in 1890. Henrik Jaeger (who must not be confounded with the novelist, Hans Henrik Jaeger) was a lecturer and dramatic critic, residing near Bergen, whose book would possess little value had he not succeeded in persuading Ibsen to give him a good deal of valuable information respecting his early life in that city. In its own day, principally on this account, Jaeger's volume was useful, supplying a large number of facts which were new to the public. But the advance of Ibsen's activity, and the increase of knowledge since his death, have so much extended and modified the poet's history that Et literaert Livsbillede has become obsolete.
The principal authorities of which I have made use in the following pages are the minute bibliographical Oplysninger of J. B. Halvorsen, marvels of ingenious labor, continued after Halvorsen's death by Sten Konow (1901); the Letters of Henrik Ibsen, published in two volumes, by H. Koht and J. Elias, in 1904, and now issued in an English translation (Hodder & Stoughton); the recollections and notes of various friends, published in the periodicals of Scandinavia and Germany after his death; T. Blanc's Et Bidrag til den Ibsenskte Digtnings Scenehistorie (1906); and, most of all, the invaluable Samliv med Ibsen (1906) of Johan Paulsen. This last-mentioned writer aspires, in measure, to be Ibsen's Boswell, and his book is a series of chapters reminiscent of the dramatist's talk and manners, chiefly during those central years of his life which he spent in Germany.
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Henrik Ibsen, Edmund Gosse
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