Ibsen Works >
Night (Sancthansnatten): Three-act prose fairy-tale comedy (eventyrkomedie), written in Bergen in the
spring and summer of 1852, performed at the Norwegian Theater in Bergen
on January 2, 1853, not published until after Ibsen’s death, in a three-volume
collection, Posthumous Writings (Efterladte
Skrifter) (Christiania, 1909).
Lady Inger of Østråt (Fru Inger til Østråt): Five-act
prose historical tragedy, written in Bergen in 1854, performed at the
Norwegian Theater in Bergen on January 2, 1855, first published act
by act in five numbers of the Christiania periodical Illustreret Nyhedsblad from May 31 to August 23, 1857. Much revised second edition,
Olaf Liljekrans: Three-act ballad drama in verse and prose, written in Bergen in 1856, performed at the Norwegian Theater in Bergen on January 2, 1857, not published until 1902, in the tenth and final volume of the "Folk Edition" (Folkeutgave) (See list III).
The Vikings at Helgeland (Hærmendene på Helgeland): Four-act prose tragedy, begun in Bergen but mostly written in Christiania in the autumn of 1857, published as a supplement to Illustreret Nyhedsblad on April 25, 1858, and first performed, under Ibsen’s direction, at the Christiania Norwegian Theater on November 24, 1858.
Love’s Comedy (Kjærlighedens Komedie): Three-act satiric verse comedy, written in Christiania primarily during the summer of 1862, published as a New Year’s supplement to Illustreret Nyhedsblad on December 31, 1862, first performed in Christiania on November 24, 1873.
The Pretenders (Kongs-Emnerne): Five-act prose historical tragedy, written in Christiania primarily in July and August, 1863, published in Christiania on October 31, 1863, first performed at the Christiania Theater on January 17, 1864, under Ibsen’s direction.
Brand: Five-act verse tragedy, written in
Peer Gynt: Five-act verse drama of many genres, the last of Ibsen’s verse dramas, written in several Italian locales in the first ten months of 1867, published in Copenhagen on November 14, 1867, first performed in Christiania on February 24, 1876.
of Youth (De unges Forbund): Five-act satiric prose comedy, written in various
German cities from summer 1868 through May 1869, published in
Emperor and Galilean (Keiser og Galilæer): Two-part, ten-act “world-historical” tragedy, first planned in Rome in 1864 but mostly written in Germany (primarily Dresden) from June 1871 through February 1873, published in Copenhagen on October 16, 1873, first performed in Leipzig on February 27, 1896.
Pillars of Society (Samfundets Støtter): Four-act drama, planned in the Tyrol in August 1875 and worked on intermittently in Germany and Austria until its completion in August 1877, published in Copenhagen on October 11, 1877, first performed in Copenhagen on November 18, 1877.
A Doll House (Et dukkehjem): Three-act drama, written in
Ghosts (Gengangere): Three-act tragedy, written in
An Enemy of
the People (En folkefiende): Five-act satirical comedy, written in
The Wild Duck (Vildanden): Five-act tragicomedy, written in
Rosmersholm: Four-act tragedy, written in
The Lady from the Sea (Fruen fra havet): Five-act drama, planned in Denmark and Sweden in the summer of 1887 and written in Munich from June through September 1888, published in Copenhagen on November 28, 1888, first performed in Christiania and Weimar on February 12, 1889.
Hedda Gabler: Four-act tragedy, written in Munich from July through November 1890, published in London on December 11, 1890, both in English translation and in Norwegian in an edition of 12 copies for copyright purposes, first full-scale publication of the Norwegian text in Copenhagen on December 16, 1890, first performed in Munich on January 31, 1891.
The Master Builder (Bygmester Solness): Three-act tragedy, written in Christiania from May through October 1892, published in London on December 6, 1892, in an edition of 12 copies for copyright purposes, and in Copenhagen on December 12, 1892, first performed at a special matinee public reading in London on December 7, 1892, first full-scale performances in Berlin and Trondheim on January 19, 1893.
Little Eyolf (Lille Eyolf): Three-act drama, written in Christiania from the end of June through October 1894, published on December 11, 1894 in Berlin, Copenhagen, and London, the last in an edition of 12 copies for copyright purposes, text publicly read in London on December 3, 1894, for copyright purposes, first full-scale performance in Berlin on January 12, 1895.
John Gabriel Borkman: Four-act tragedy, written in Christiania from April through October 1896, published in London on 12 December 12, 1896, in an edition of 12 copies for copyright purposes, and in Copenhagen on December 15, 1896, text publicly read in London on December 14, 1896, for copyright purposes, first full-scale performances at the Swedish and Finnish Theaters in Helsinki on January 10, 1897.
When We Dead Awaken (Når vi døde vågner): Three-act “dramatic epilogue,” worked on now and then for two years in Christiania and finished in late autumn 1899, published in London, in an edition of 12 copies for copyright purposes, and Copenhagen on December 19, 1899, publicly read in London, Christiania, Berlin, and Dusseldorf in December, 1899, and January, 1900, first full-scale performance in Stuttgart on 26 January 26, 1900.
II Other Important Writings
“The Mountain Miner” (“Bergmanden”):
Perhaps Ibsen’s signature poem.
The first surviving version is preserved in an Ibsen manuscript
from 1850, followed by a number of revisions and three publications
of versions of it before it found its final form in Ibsen’s volume of
Norma: Brief verse parody of the libretto of Bellini’s
opera, written in
“On the Heroic Ballad and its Significance for Literary Poetry” (“Om Kjæmpevisen og dens Betydning for Kunstpoesien”): An essay that Ibsen read on February 2, 1857, to a literary society he belonged to in Bergen; published in two numbers of Illustreret Nyhedsblad in May 1857.
“On the Heights” (“På Vidderne”): Long lyrical narrative poem reflecting and amplifying some of the central concerns of Ibsen’s dramatic work, written in Christiania in late 1859 and published in the New Year’s supplement to Illustreret Nyhedsblad in January, 1860.
Terje Vigen: Long narrative poem about the title character’s efforts to save his family from starvation when Norway was blockaded by the Allies during the Napoleonic Wars; written in Christiania in 1860 and published in the New Year’s supplement to Illustreret Nyhedsblad on February 23, 1862.
“Balloon Letter to a Swedish Lady” (“Ballonbrev til en svensk dame”): This poem, Ibsen’s longest, presents his musings on his trip to Egypt in 1869 and on the Franco-Prussian war; it was written in Dresden in late 1870 (it is dated December 1 but was not mailed until December 24) and published in the Christiania newspaper Morgenbladet on June 8, 1871.
“A Letter in Rhyme” (“Et rimbrev”): Long poem likening modern society to a ship “sailing with a corpse in the cargo,” written in Munich during summer 1875 and published in the April-September 1875 number of Georg Brandes’ Copenhagen periodical Det nittende Aarhundrede.
Untitled childhood memories of Skien, written in Rome on January 17, 1881, published in “Hundreårsutgave” (see list III), volume XV (1930), pp. 365-71; English translation in Meyer (see “Note” below), pp. 7-12.
III. Major Collected Editions
Poems (Dikt): Ibsen’s selected poems, published in Copenhagen on May 3, 1871.
Henrik Ibsens sämtliche Werke, 9 Vols., edited by Georg Brandes, Julias Elias, and Paul Schlenther (Berlin, 1898-1903).
Henrik Ibsen, Samlede Værker, Folkeutgave, 10 Vols. (Copenhagen, 1898-1902).
Henrik Ibsen, Samlede Verker, Hundreårsutgave, 21 Vols., edited by Francis Bull, Halvdan Koht, and Didrik Arup Seip (Oslo, 1928-1957).
The Oxford Ibsen, 8 Vols., edited by James Walter McFarlane (Oxford University Press, 1960-1977). English translations by McFarlane and others, valuable introductions by McFarlane as well as other useful information.
Ibsen: The Complete Major Prose Plays, translated by Rolf Fjelde (New York, 1978).
Note: The basic source for this information about Ibsen’s works is the “Table of Dates” in Henrik Ibsen, edited by James McFarlane, Penguin Critical Anthologies (Middlesex, England: 1970), but this source has been checked against and supplemented by the Hundreårsutgave (see list III above) and the biographies by Halvdan Koht (Henrik Ibsen, Eit diktarliv, 2nd. Edn. [Oslo: Aschehoug, 1954]) and Michael Meyer (Ibsen, A Biography [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971]).
Thomas Van Laan
Rutgers University, Emeritus
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