2017 | 7 | 71-86
Article title

Imagining Hedda Gabler: Munch and Ibsen on Art and Modern Life

Title variants
Languages of publication
Among Edvard Munch’s many portraits of Henrik Ibsen, the famous Norwegian dramatist and Munch’s senior by a generation, one stands out. Large in scope and with a characteristic pallet of roughly hewed gray blue, green and yellow, the sketch is given the title Geniuses. Munch’s sketch shows Ibsen, who had died a few years earlier, in the company of Socrates and Nietzsche. The picture was a working sketch for a painting commissioned by the University. While Munch, in the end, chose a different motif for his commission, it is nonetheless significant that he found it appropriate to portrait the Norwegian dramatist in the company of key European philosophers, indeed the whole span of the European philosophical tra­dition from its early beginnings to its most controversial spokesman in the late 1800s. In my article, I seek to take seriously Munch’s bold and original positioning of Ibsen in the company of philosophers. Focusing on Hedda Gabler-a play about love lost and lives unlived-I explore the aesthetic-philosophical ramifications of Ibsen’s peculiar position between realism and modernism. This position, I suggest, is also reflected in Munch’s sketches for the set design for Hermann Bahr’s 1906 production of the play.
Physical description
  • Temple University
  • Adorno, Theodor W. Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. London: Verso, 2010. Print.
  • Brandes, Georg. Henrik Ibsen. København: Gyldendal, 1906. Print.
  • Ferguson, Robert. Ibsen: A New Biography. London: Richard Cohen, 1996. Print.
  • Fischer-Lichte, Erika. “Ibsen’s Ghosts: A Play for All Theatre Concepts.” Ibsen Studies 7 (2007): 61–83. Print.
  • Gjesdal, Kristin. Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler: Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2017. Print.
  • Gosse, Edmund. “Ibsen’s New Drama.” Rev. of Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen. Nasjonalbiblioteket 27 Feb. 2006. Web. 1 June 2017.
  • Ibsen, Henrik. “Emperor and Galilean.” Henrik Ibsens Skrifter. Ed. Vigdis Ystad et al. Trans. Modified. Vol. VI. Oslo: Aschehoug, 2005–2010. Print.
  • Ibsen, Henrik. “Hedda Gabler.” Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. Ed. James McFarlane. Trans. James McFarlane and Jens Arup. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.
  • Ibsen, Henrik. “Hedda Gabler.” Henrik Ibsens Skrifter. Ed. Vigdis Ystad et al. Trans. Modified. Vol. IX. Oslo: Aschehoug, 2005–2010. Print.
  • Ibsen, Henrik. “Tale Ved Fest I Stockholm 24 September 1887.” Universitetet i Oslo: Henrik Ibsens Skrifter. Web. 1 June 2017.
  • Innes, Christopher, ed. Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge, 2003. Print.
  • Lathe, Carla. “Edvard Munch’s Dramatic Images 1892–1909.” Journal of the Warburg and Cortauld Institutes 46 (1983): 91–206. Print.
  • Marker, Frederick J., and Lise-Lone Marker. Ibsen’s Lively Art: A Performance Study of the Major Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. Print.
  • Møller, Liz. “The Analytical Theater: Freud and Ibsen.” The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review 13 (1990): 112–28. Print.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. London: Penguin, 1997. Print.
  • Sousa, Elisabethe M de. “Eugéne Scribe: The Fortunate Authorship of an Unfortunate Author.” Kierkegaard and the Renaissance and Modern Traditions. Tome III: Literature, Drama, and Music. Ed. Jon Stewart. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. Print.
  • Templeton, Joan. Munch’s Ibsen: A Painter’s Visions of a Playwright. Seattle: U of Washington P, 2008. Print.
  • Tysdahl, Bjørn J. Joyce and Ibsen: A Study in Literary Influence. Oslo: Norwegian UP, 1968. Print.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.