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10 december 2016

The Master Builder is one weird play. It is very impressive and highly memorable, thanks in part to its weirdness. I first read it when I was being an Ibsen completist back in college, 40 years ago, and in preparing to teach some Ibsen for the first time in a while this year, I thought at once of re-reading it now. It's a thrilling piece of drama that makes so much emotional sense that you look straight past the fact that it makes very little sense as a window on the real world.     read more

9 december 2016

As Michael Meyer points out in his 1962 translation of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, the characters "spend much of the time circling around a subject they dread referring to directly" (125). Several subjects, in fact: sexual license, parentage, alcoholism, blasphemy, incest, disease, homosexuality – these people circle around the point so much that one may suspect them of avoiding subjects they've never even dreamt of avoiding. Ghosts became one of the most reviled plays of all time by barely talking about things that its audiences barely wanted to realize existed.     read more

8 december 2016

Dorothy Scarborough is a 2016 inductee into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, though she was unable to attend the ceremony; she'd been dead for 80 years.     read more

6 december 2016

I've said this before: the 19th century in America was a pretty lethal time and place. If the cholera, sepsis, and consumption didn't get you, you would certainly be blithely murdered by one of the many merciless killers that stalked the pleasant tree-lined streets of our growing cities.     read more