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First published in 1996, Robert Ferguson’s controversial Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography is perhaps the most irreverent and critical of all the Ibsen biographies. Ferguson provides insight into Ibsen’s personal life, his creative work, and the world in which he lived. He paints the portrait of a complex, emotionally tormented artist – not one who is necessarily likable, but one whom we can understand and appreciate.
Using previously unavailable material, including a letter in which Ibsen admits paternity of his illegitimate son, Ferguson chips through the hard enamel of Ibsen’s public reputation. He details many of Ibsen’s private traumas, such as how his inability to pay for the child’s support very nearly landed him in jail, and shows the real impact of these experiences on Ibsen’s growth, both as a man and as a playwright. The book clearly demonstrates that Ibsen was one of the great therapeutic artists.
Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography is a deeply researched, wide-ranging account of the man often called the founder of modern drama. At the time of its publication it polarised the critics and stirred up a great deal of debate. Essential reading for anyone interested in Ibsen and in the development of the modern theatre.
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