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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2000
I first picked up a copy of Ibsen while searching through my parents' bookshelf for something to read; after zipping through 'A Doll House' I knew I was hooked. All of Ibsen's (late) plays are amazing in that they adhere to a strict structure - always set in Norway (even though Ibsen lived all around Europe) in a small town and, with the exception of 'The Wild Duck,' have a similarly bittersweet ending - but are nevertheless full of brute and honest emotions and characters who are incredibly multi-dimensional, all within about 100 pages per play.
These four plays are no doubt among Ibsen's best. 'Ghosts' deals with disease of the body and the spirit in the Alving family, while 'The Lady from the Sea' is comparable to 'Hedda Gabler' in its strong feminism: the main character Ellida demands the right to choose her own future. In 'John Gabriel Borkman' the title character comes down from self-imposed confinment in the attic of his house to begin his life again.
However, my favorite has to be 'An Enemy of the People', which is one of the most powerful indictments of bourgeois democratic politics I've ever read. Those interested in such nineteenth-century philosophers as Kierkegaard or Nietzsche would particularly enjoy this play, since Ibsen strongly denounces the idea that the will of the majority is always right. While the American film of the play was not that good, there's a reason it was made in the first place: 'Enemy' might be the most relevant of all of Ibsen's plays to contemporary society (and I thought that even before the 2000 election!). While you might not agree with the sentiments of the main character, Dr. Stockmann, his ideas will provoke a reaction one way or the other, I promise you.
Finally, the book also contains a lengthy and informative foreword by the translator Rolf Fjelde.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 1998
I was forced to read all of Ibsen's work as part of an english degree but, unlike the wordy and old-fashioned prose of books like "Anna Karenina" or "Middlemarch", Ibsen was a refreshing break - with his down-to-earth, probable, moving and tragically realistic plays that are relevent even in modern society. I especially recommend "Ghosts" - although if you like the corny "resolve everything" endings of Hollywood, this tragic and open-ended play is not for you! For readers who like to guess their own ending, get "Ghosts" right now!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 1998
Ibsen's "Enemy of the People" is not dull and unmoving; it characterizes the machinations of small-town politicos in a way that parallels many "democratic" examples we have around us today (in 1998 America, that is). Predictable at times, Ibsen's Dr. Stockmann provides the reader with a perfect candidate for this tragic affair: he is an idealist through and through, and readers know Ibsen is speaking from actual life experience. "An Enemy of the People" is therapeutic for anyone who has been stung by things political, and enlightening for those lucky enough to have avoided that sting.
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0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 1997
Henrik Ibsen has made the perfect book for a book review. In play form and right around a hundred pages, AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE is boring and is almost impossible to get into. Unless you need something at the last minute, all you lazy teens, I do not recommend. (JGD)
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