The plays in this volume focus on the family and how it struggles to stay together by telling lies – and exposing them. In “Ghosts”, Osvald Alving returns home only to discover the truth about the father he always looked up to, and learns the horrific effect his father’s debauchery has had on him. It was Ibsen’s most provocative drama, stripping away the surface of a middle-class family to expose layers of hypocrisy and immorality. “A Public Enemy” sets two brothers against each other when one wishes to make public the facts about the polluted water in the public baths of their home town. And “When We Dead Wake” tells of an artist meeting an old lover by chance and rejecting his wife, in a symbolic exploration of Ibsen’s own literary life and the sacrifices he made in his work.
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Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) is often called “the Father of Modern Drama.” Born in Norway in 1828, he enjoyed successes with the verse dramas Brand and Peer Gynt before embarking on his great 12-play cycle of society dramas, which included A Doll’s House and Ghosts. After 21 years of… More about Henrik Ibsen