In the course of the second half of the 19th century dramatic art underwent profound and radical changes. What was Ibsen's position and standpoint in these processes of change? What, according to Ibsen, was it necessary for the theatres to do in order to face the challenges of modern drama? In this article, the theatre researcher Thoralf Berg takes up these questions.
Ibsenism on Ibsen.net is published as in Elisabeth Eideís Doctoral Dissertation Chinaís Ibsen: From Ibsen to Ibsenism (1986), translated from Chinese by Eide, as it appeared in the revolutionary magazine Xin Qing Nian (New Youth) vol. 4, no. 6, June 1918.
To become a world dramatist takes time, at least if Norwegian happens to be your mother tongue. When Ibsen made his debut in 1850, Norwegian was a language spoken by scarcely 1.4 million people. Publishing houses didn’t exist, there were only a few theatres, and there Danish reigned. 40 years later, Ibsen made a name for himself on the world market. Today he is translated to 78 languages. How did the small, weird Norwegian, who for most of his career had to be his own literary agent, manage to conquer so many markets?
During an international Ibsen seminar in Beijing in May 1995 Dag Solstad enters the podium and claimed that Ibsen hasn’t "had any great significance for me". If he should mention twenty authors whom he especially appreciates, he would probably "have forgotten to mention him" (Solstad 1995b, 437f). When Solstad now turns 70 and we take the opportunity to examine Ibsen references in his collected authorship, we become somewhat puzzled. Among Norwegian contemporary authors, there are, in fact, no one who has entered into such an intimate dialogue with Ibsen as our birthday boy.