Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828–1906) By D'Amico, Giuliano
Henrik Ibsen is Norway’s most important writer and one of the most influential dramatists of the second half of the nineteenth century. His dramatic production has left a deep mark on Western culture, and his plays have revolutionized the European theatre, inspiring generations of playwrights and novelists such as George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Luigi Pirandello, Anton Chekhov, and Eugene O’Neill. Together with Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, August Strindberg, and Jens Peter Jacobsen, Ibsen is considered one of the major exponents of the Scandinavian “Modern Breakthrough,” as well as one of the early voices of European modernism. His early dramatic production mainly consists of historical plays, verse drama, and poetry; in the late 1870s, Ibsen started a cycle of 12 prose plays in a contemporary bourgeois setting, which combine a marked taste for realism with a turn to symbolism, especially in his later years. His discussion of “the woman question” and of the moral double standard of the European bourgeoisie, but also the psychological study of his characters and the search for identity they undertake, made Ibsen first a controversial figure, later a famous, praised, and rich author. In the twentieth century, Ibsen has become a classic of world literature and drama, and he is widely read, staged, and researched all over the globe. In particular, the social appeal of his plays is still dramatically felt in developing countries and in different post-colonial contexts.