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

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The McCarthy nightmare had begun. . . . Miller was under suspicion for Communist activities. . . . The blacklist seeps into the core of his adaptation. . . . It's a skillfully crafted work . . . a reminder of what has happened, what can happen, and what must never happen again."
-John Guare, from the Introduction

"Miller has released the anger and scorn of the father of realism."
-Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times

Language Notes

Text: English, Norwegian (translation)

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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 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo 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 Lawrance Bernabo 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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10 of 11 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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