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Oxford University Press
Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy

Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy

by Toril MoiToril Moi
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Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is the founder of modern theater, and his plays are performed all over the world. Yet in spite of his unquestioned status as a classic of the stage, Ibsen is often dismissed as a fuddy-duddy old realist, whose plays are of interest only because they remain the gateway to modern theater. In Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism, Toril Moi makes a powerful case not just for Ibsen's modernity, but for his modernism. Situating Ibsen in his cultural context, she shows how unexpected his rise to world fame was, and the extent of his influence on writers such Shaw, Wilde, and Joyce who were seeking to escape the shackles of Victorianism.

Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism also rewrites nineteenth-century literary history; positioning Ibsen between visual art and philosophy, the book offers a critique of traditional theories of the opposition between realism and modernism. Modernism, Moi argues, arose from the ruins of idealism, the dominant aesthetic paradigm of the nineteenth century. She also shows why Ibsen still matters to us today, by focusing on two major themes-his explorations of women, men, and marriage and his clear-eyed chronicling of the tension between skepticism and the everyday.

This radical new account places Ibsen in his rightful place alongside Baudelaire, Flaubert, and Manet as a founder of European modernism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199202591
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/15/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,061,995
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Toril Moi was born and raised in Norway, and worked in England in the 1980s, before moving to Duke University in 1989, where she is now the James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies. She is the author of influential books on feminist theory. The second edition of her landmark study of Simone de Beauvoir will be published in January 2008.

Table of Contents

An Ibsen Chronology
Part I: Ibsen's Place in History
1. Ibsen and the Ideology of Modernism
2. Postcolonial Norway? Ibsen's Cultural Resources
3. Rethinking Literary History: Idealism, Realism, and the Birth of Modernism
4. Ibsen's Visual World: Spectacles, Painting, Theater
Part II: Ibsen's Modern Breakthrough
5. The Idealist Straitjacket: Ibsen's Early Aesthetics
6. Becoming Modern: Modernity and Theater in Emperor and Galilean
Part III: Ibsen's Modernism: Love in an Age of Skepticism
7. "First and Foremost a Human Being": Idealism, Theater, and Gender in A Doll's House
8. Losing Touch with the Everyday: Love and Language in The Wild Duck
9. Losing Faith in Language: Fantasies of Perfect Communication in Rosmersholm
10. The Art of Transformation: Art, Marriage, and Freedom in The Lady From the Sea
Epilogue: Idealism and the "Bad" Everyday
Appendix 1: Synopsis of Emperor and Galilean
Appendix 2: Translating Ibsen

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