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The Wild Duck

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1161591460
ISBN-10: 116159146X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

My heart started breaking at 9:45 last night, a little more than two hours into Great Lakes Theater Festival's THE WILD DUCK, breaking for a once-happy family sucked down into the depths. It may take a while to get there as Ibsen marches deliberately and unswervingly toward the precipice, but your heart too is in for an exhausting but enlightening workout... Written in 1884, this Norwegian masterpiece could hardly be more at home in the United States in 2000. It is a play about destructively false idealism that leads to self-righteous campaigns against human foibles. It could easily be about Kenneth Starr. Translator and adaptor Anthony Clarvoe [has] chosen to update the language and to set the play in the Cleveland of today.... Except for the Americanization of names and a few almost invisible trims, Clarvoe's is a remarkably faithful update. --Tony Brown, Cleveland Plain Dealer --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, Norwegian (translation) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (May 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 116159146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1161591460
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,932,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many find Ibsen difficult to understand. I certainly did. However, by reading The Wild Duck, I was introduced to an entire new world of symbolism and creative writing. Like the master he was, Ibsen paints a portrait of a family, representing all of us, living on a lie. Cruelty in our midst, innocent victimes and pragmatists losing to the vindictive, it's all there. The touches of comedy and tragedy just increase the impression that it does concern us, that really, he's looked into our lives and seen our lies, although hopefully in a less extreme version. And don't we all know a Hedvig, a Gina, a Hjalmar and a Gregers? Maybe there's something of the all in all of us... The book sucks you in, creeps under your skin and stays there, along with the horror, the anger and the sympathy you feel while reading. In my opinion, one of the best examples of Ibsen's less romantic period of writing.
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Format: Paperback
THIS STARK PLAY, WRITTEN AT THE END OF IBSEN’S MIDDLE PERIOD, REPRISES SIMILAR THEMES: A PHILANDERING FAMILY MAN, AN ESTRANGED FATHER AND SON, AND THE QUESTIONABLE PARENTAGE OF A MAID’S DAUGHTER. CURIOUSLY ENOUGH THE TITLE CHARACTER--A WOUNDED WILD DUCK, TEMPORARILY TAMED AND LIVING IN AN ATTIC—IS NEVER ACTUALLY SEEN ON STAGE, JUST REFERENCED IN MANY CONVERSATIONS AND POSSIBLY HEARD QUACKING.

ACT ONE REVEALS OLD WOUNDS AND THE REASON WHY THE EKDAL FAMILY STRUGGLES WITH POVERTY AND LINGERING SOCIAL HUMILIATION. FORMER BUSINESS PARTNERS IN THE “WORKINGS” UP IN THE NORTHERN FOREST, TWO OLD MEN HAVE REASONS TO AVOID EACH OTHER, BUT IT IS WEALTHY WERLE WHOSE GUILTY CONSCIENCE GOADS HIM INTO SURREPTITIOUSLY HELPING THE EKDALS WHEN HE CAN. HIS FORMER MAID, GINA, NOW MARRIED TO A MODESTLY SUCCESSFUL PHOTOGRAPHER NAMED HJALMAR, IS A GREAT HELP TO HER HUSBAND. THEIR ALMOST 15-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, HEDVIG, IS DEVOTED TO HER FATHER--BUT LIVES IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE OF HER DUBIOUS PARENTAGE. ALSO SHE, LIKE OLD WERLE, IS LOSING HER EYESIGHT—A PAINFUL MEDICAL FATE WHICH HER PARENTS PATHETICALLY SHIELD HER FROM.

AS THE ACTS UNFOLD AND MORE OF THE PAST IS REVEALED THE CONTROVERSY DEEPENS. WE WONDER IF HEDVIG WILL SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE OR IF HJALMAR WILL SHOOT HIMSELF WITH HIS FATHER’S UBIQUITOUS OLD PISTOL. THEN GREGERS, AN OLD SCHOOL CHUM, RETURNS TO THE TOWN BUT REFUSES TO LIVE WITH HIS FATHER, WERLE. NAIVELY DETERMINED TO MAKE AMENDS (WITH INFORMATION IF NOT MONEY) GREGER'S MOTIVES ARE PRAISEWORTHY, BUT COME AT THE WRONG TIME. (AS IF THERE IS EVER A GOOD TIME TO INFORM A MAN THAT HE MAY NOT BE HIS DAUGHTER’S FATHER AFTER ALL...) HOW CAN HEDVIG BEST PROVE TO HJALMAR THAT SHE IS STILL HIS ADORING DAUGHTER? WHO MUST LEAVE THE BEDRAGGLED NEST TO RESTORE PEACE IN THEIR HUMBLE HOME?
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Format: Paperback
Many find Ibsen difficult to understand. I certainly did. However, by reading The Wild Duck, I was introduced to an entire new world of symbolism and creative writing. Like the master he was, Ibsen paints a portrait of a family, representing all of us, living on a lie. Cruelty in our midst, innocent victims and pragmatists losing to the vindictive, it's all there. The touches of comedy and tragedy just increase the impression that it does concern us. And don't we all know a Hedvig, a Gina, a Hialmar and a Gregers? Maybe there's something of that in all of us. The book drew me in, it crept under my skin and stayed there, along with the horror, the anger and the sympathy I felt like I was in their world while reading.
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Format: Paperback
The Ekdals - Hjalmar, his wife Gina, and their daughter Hedvig live a decent life. It has it's frustrations but they get by and they care for each other. One day an old friend of Hjalmar's, Gregers Werle, shows up. He's learned some family history, and, being an idealist, as someone who thinks truth should reign at all costs, he turns the Ekdal's world upside-down. How this little family deals with this news is the crux of the play.

It's a provacative read. It may seem slow at first but it picks up considerably and moves along swiftly towards the end. The characters are well drawn, that is, they're recognizable. They have their personal idiosyncrasies, their faults and virtues and ideals. I was impressed by how much they reminded me of people in my own life.

There are many ideas to play with when reading this. Is it possible to live a life completely free of self-delusion? Do we all tell ourselves lies in order to live? I would call it a play of ideas but that might make it sound didactic or doctrinaire, which it isn't (to me anyway, I think some people disagree).

I've read a fair sample of Ibsens work and I think this is the best of the bunch.
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Format: Paperback
Ibsen's philosophical "message" in this play disturbs me. I don't think I agree with Dr. Relling that each of us needs his own brand of self-deception to cope with life. Certainly Hialmar Ekdal is content enough, and hilariously funny as an lazy fool who thinks he's a creative genius in photograhy, a breadwinner to his wife and daughter, and a martyr to his father's scandalous past. Alas, his friend Gregers Werl points the way to the truth, that Hialmar is deceived about everything in his life. It would all be comical but for the fact that Hialmar's daugher Hedvig, who is probably not his daugther at all, shoots herself as proof of her love for Hialmar. So, Ibsen seems to say, here the truth has cost a young girl's life, an unbearable tragedy but for the fact that she was going blind. Well, no doubt there is cost in knowing the truth about oneself and about others, no doubt there are things we prefer not to know, and no doubt there are people like Hialmar who are impervious to truth. But there are also people like Hialmar's wife Gina, and Dr. Relling himself, who know the truth and who hold up nobly and well. For at least these, I think Ibsen should recommend truth in large doses, and perhaps he does.
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