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An Enemy of the People (Penguin Plays) Paperback – November 17, 1977


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (November 17, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140481400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140481402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Norwegian (translation)

About the Author

Henrik Ibsen was born of well-to-do parents at Skien, a small Norwegian coastal town, on March 20, 1828. In 1836 his father went bankrupt, and the family was reduced to near poverty. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Grimstad. In 1850 Ibsen ventured to Christiania���present-day Oslo���as a student, with the hope of becoming a doctor. On the strength of his first two plays he was appointed ���theater-poet��� to the new Bergen National Theater, where he wrote five conventional romantic and historical dramas and absorbed the elements of his craft. In 1857 he was called to the directorship of the financially unsound Christiania Norwegian Theater, which failed in 1862. In 1864, exhausted and enraged by the frustration of his efforts toward a national drama and theater, he quit Norway for what became twenty-seven years of voluntary exile abroad. In Italy he wrote the volcanic Brand (1866), which made his reputation and secured him a poet���s stipend from the government. Its companion piece, the phantasmagoric Peer Gynt, followed in 1867, then the immense double play, Emperor and Galilean (1873), expressing his philosophy of civilization. Meanwhile, having moved to Germany, Ibsen had been searching for a new style. With The Pillars of Society he found it; this became the first of twelve plays, appearing at two-year intervals, that confirmed his international standing as the foremost dramatist of his age. In 1900 Ibsen suffered the first of several strokes that incapacitated him. He died in Oslo on May 23, 1906.

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Customer Reviews

This adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play is great.
Benjamin L. Gitelson
Dr. Stockman's idealism is at odds with the practical realities of the world in which he lives while the Burgomaster ignores ethical concerns.
Amazon Customer
My daughter had to read this book as one of her summer readings.
H. F. Miglino

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Henrik Ibsen is the father of modern drama and his 1882 drama "An Enemy of the People" ("En folkefiende") was one of his more controversial works. In the play Dr. Stockmann discovers that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease that requires they should be closed until they can be repaired. However, the mayor of the town (the Burgomaster), who is Stockmann's brother Peter, rejects the report and refuses to close the baths because it will bring about the financial ruin of the town. When Dr. Stockmann tries to make his case to the people of the town, the mayor counters by pointing out how expensive it would be to repair the baths and dismisses the doctor for having wild, fanciful ideas. At the public meeting Dr. Stockmann is declared "an enemy of the people" by the Burgomaster.

To really appreciate this particular Ibsen play you have to look at it in the context of his previous dramas, because they all represent a conflict between the playwright and his critics. In 1879 Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" ("Et dukkehjem") was produced, wherein the character of Nora pretends to be a silly little wife in order to flatter her husband, who is revealed to be a hypocritical fraud. The idea that a woman would leave her husband and children was seen as being outrageous and basically obscene. Ibsen upset his audience and critics even more in his next play, "Ghosts" ("Gengangere"), an 1881 drama that again attacks conventional morality and hypocrisy. The topic is of congenital venereal disease but the true subject is moral contamination. Mrs. Alving has buried her husband, a degenerate who has left behind a son dying from syphilis and an illegitimate daughter who is probably going to end up being a prostitute. The play ends with Mrs.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Henrik Ibsen is the father of modern drama and his 1882 drama "An Enemy of the People" ("En folkefiende") was one of his more controversial works. In the play Dr. Stockmann discovers that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease that requires they should be closed until they can be repaired. However, the mayor of the town (the Burgomaster), who is Stockmann's brother Peter, rejects the report and refuses to close the baths because it will bring about the financial ruin of the town. When Dr. Stockmann tries to make his case to the people of the town, the mayor counters by pointing out how expensive it would be to repair the baths and dismisses the doctor for having wild, fanciful ideas. At the public meeting Dr. Stockmann is declared "an enemy of the people" by the Burgomaster.

To really appreciate this particular Ibsen play you have to look at it in the context of his previous dramas, because they all represent a conflict between the playwright and his critics. In 1879 Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" ("Et dukkehjem") was produced, wherein the character of Nora pretends to be a silly little wife in order to flatter her husband, who is revealed to be a hypocritical fraud. The idea that a woman would leave her husband and children was seen as being outrageous and basically obscene. Ibsen upset his audience and critics even more in his next play, "Ghosts" ("Gengangere"), an 1881 drama that again attacks conventional morality and hypocrisy. The topic is of congenital venereal disease but the true subject is moral contamination. Mrs. Alving has buried her husband, a degenerate who has left behind a son dying from syphilis and an illegitimate daughter who is probably going to end up being a prostitute. The play ends with Mrs.
Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This powerful play is my first experience reading Henrik Ibsen and WOW! The conflict is timeless and the leading character Dr. Stockmann reminded me of Sir Thomas More.
After I read the play I did not want to put the book down and wanted more. I flipped to the front of my edition translated by Christpher Hampton and read his nihilistic introduction. Mr. Hampton missed the whole point and somehow thought Dr. Stockman really WAS the "enemy of the people". Hampton sounded like one of the townspeople from the mob in Act Four when he wrote:
"This is to simplify Ibsen's intent; because however sympathetic Ibsen feels towards Dr Stockmann's cause, he is too subtle and profound a dramatist not to know that there are few figures more infuriating than the man who is always right. Stockmann's sincerity, naivety and courage co-exist with an innocent vanity, an inability to compromise and an indifference to the havoc caused in the lives of his family and friends, as well as his own, by his dogged pursuit of principle."
Hampton's edition is a nice size with print that is easy to read. I loved the story and the characters and I highly recommend it to all. I have lived the experience and have been "the enemy" so I understood Dr. Stockmann but I learned from Christopher Hampton and my own experience not everyone will "get it."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Well written, and realistic. Thomas is a well-meaning but rather tactless environmentalist. His brother Peter is more concerned about Thomas making a fool out of himself than trying to fix the situation. Just like in real life, there are no easy solutions but there are plenty of alibis and irrational negotiations from politicians ("If you'll just take back what you said..."). The only friend Thomas really has is the reader.
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