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An Enemy of the People (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Henrik Ibsen
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2000 Dover Thrift Editions
When Dr. Thomas Stockmann learns that the famous and financially successful baths in his home town are contaminated, he insists they be shut down for expensive repairs. Ridiculed and persecuted by the townsfolk for his honesty, he is declared an "enemy of the people." A powerful drama by the "father of modern drama."

Frequently Bought Together

An Enemy of the People (Dover Thrift Editions) + Four Major Plays: (Doll's House; Ghosts; Hedda Gabler; and The Master Builder) (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (1 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486406571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486406572
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.4 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An unequivocal triumph." --"Times Literary Supplement "(London)"Christopher Hampton's new version of the text is also a revelation . . . "An Enemy of the People" has been reborn as a passionate current debate about the value of the individual . . . The dust has been blown off the original text, and it will not settle for a long time . . . There is a vitality, vehemence and victory here against the odds." --"Spectator" (London)"More than any revival of Ibsen's plays I've seen, it creates a sense of place vital to the theme . . . "An Enemy of the People" is little short of superb, for it gives us both a big, rich, public play and the private drama of two men locked in rivalry that probably goes back to the playpen . . . You want an unforgettable picture of the idealist at his most necessary yet impossible? Here it is." --"The Times" (London) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Only Shakespeare's plays are performed more frequently than those of Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906). The Norwegian playwright, theater director, and poet scandalized many of his contemporaries as he led the theater into the modern era by exploring the realities behind 19th-century social conventions.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 11 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wasn't at all what I thought it would be about but made me think nevertheless
This edition was easy to read apart from the
fact that the characters weren't in bold or highlights which was occasionally confusing. Quite a few typos and a whole exchange was missing in scene 4
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best piece of literature for me 30 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I didn't feel that it was amazing, honestly I felt a bit bored reading it. It was not the best book I have ever read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, but the format ...... 11 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everyone should read this and share it with friends

At this price you could share it with many and not be broke

But: the lack of page numbers and the lack of alternative fonts to indicate the names of speakers make the reading more difficult than is comfortable
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ibsen on the conflict between idealism and practicality 29 April 2005
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Henrik Ibsen is the father of modern drama and his 1882 drama "An Enemy of the People" ("En folkefiende") was one of his more controversial works. In the play Dr. Stockmann discovers that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease that requires they should be closed until they can be repaired. However, the mayor of the town (the Burgomaster), who is Stockmann's brother Peter, rejects the report and refuses to close the baths because it will bring about the financial ruin of the town. When Dr. Stockmann tries to make his case to the people of the town, the mayor counters by pointing out how expensive it would be to repair the baths and dismisses the doctor for having wild, fanciful ideas. At the public meeting Dr. Stockmann is declared "an enemy of the people" by the Burgomaster.

To really appreciate this particular Ibsen play you have to look at it in the context of his previous dramas, because they all represent a conflict between the playwright and his critics. In 1879 Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" ("Et dukkehjem") was produced, wherein the character of Nora pretends to be a silly little wife in order to flatter her husband, who is revealed to be a hypocritical fraud. The idea that a woman would leave her husband and children was seen as being outrageous and basically obscene. Ibsen upset his audience and critics even more in his next play, "Ghosts" ("Gengangere"), an 1881 drama that again attacks conventional morality and hypocrisy. The topic is of congenital venereal disease but the true subject is moral contamination. Mrs. Alving has buried her husband, a degenerate who has left behind a son dying from syphilis and an illegitimate daughter who is probably going to end up being a prostitute. The play ends with Mrs. Alving having to decide if she should poison her son to put him out of his misery or let his agonies persist.

Again, Ibsen was attacked for outraging conventional morality. The following year after "Ghosts" the playwright responded with "An Enemy of the People" and the character that is most identified with representing Ibsen on stage in Dr. Stockmann. The allegory is quite plain when the play is considered within the context of Ibsen's work during this period, although while Stockmann is portrayed as a victim there is a sense of destructiveness to his behavior. At the end of the play Stockman has decided to leave the town, but then changes his mind to stay and fight for those things he believes are right.

As is the case with most of Ibsen's classic works, "An Enemy of the People" speaks to larger issues than those in conflict in the play. The debate is over the bad water pipes at the new baths, but the true conflict is over the clash of private and public morality. Dr. Stockmann is by far the most idealistic of Ibsen's characters, and that fact that he is opposed by his own brother, the Burgomaster, harkens back to Genesis and the fight between Cain and Able. As was the case with "Ghosts," there is an ambiguous ending where what happens next can be seen as going either way given your own inclinations as a member of the audience.

Both of the Stockman brothers are flawed. Dr. Stockman's idealism is at odds with the practical realities of the world in which he lives while the Burgomaster ignores ethical concerns. Ultimately, Ibsen is not forcing us to choose between the two but rather to reject both in terms of some middle ground. The Burgomaster is certainly old school, believing those in authority get to make all the decisions and that the people must subordinate themselves to the society. But he was the one who made the mistake of putting the new water pipes in the wrong place, so even his claims that he is looking out for the welfare of the community are dishonest. Dr. Stockman argues for individual freedom and the right of free expression, but his attempt to fix the problem ignores any effort at persuasion or building public support. He also seems to take pleasure in be able to show that his brother made a mistake. Still, in the end we have to favor the doctor over the mayor because his integrity is clearly stronger, while still recognizing that his idealism is tragically flawed.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Play but the Introduction is Lacking 20 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This powerful play is my first experience reading Henrik Ibsen and WOW! The conflict is timeless and the leading character Dr. Stockmann reminded me of Sir Thomas More.
After I read the play I did not want to put the book down and wanted more. I flipped to the front of my edition translated by Christpher Hampton and read his nihilistic introduction. Mr. Hampton missed the whole point and somehow thought Dr. Stockman really WAS the "enemy of the people". Hampton sounded like one of the townspeople from the mob in Act Four when he wrote:
"This is to simplify Ibsen's intent; because however sympathetic Ibsen feels towards Dr Stockmann's cause, he is too subtle and profound a dramatist not to know that there are few figures more infuriating than the man who is always right. Stockmann's sincerity, naivety and courage co-exist with an innocent vanity, an inability to compromise and an indifference to the havoc caused in the lives of his family and friends, as well as his own, by his dogged pursuit of principle."
Hampton's edition is a nice size with print that is easy to read. I loved the story and the characters and I highly recommend it to all. I have lived the experience and have been "the enemy" so I understood Dr. Stockmann but I learned from Christopher Hampton and my own experience not everyone will "get it."
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ibsen on the conflict between idealism and practicality 24 April 2005
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Henrik Ibsen is the father of modern drama and his 1882 drama "An Enemy of the People" ("En folkefiende") was one of his more controversial works. In the play Dr. Stockmann discovers that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease that requires they should be closed until they can be repaired. However, the mayor of the town (the Burgomaster), who is Stockmann's brother Peter, rejects the report and refuses to close the baths because it will bring about the financial ruin of the town. When Dr. Stockmann tries to make his case to the people of the town, the mayor counters by pointing out how expensive it would be to repair the baths and dismisses the doctor for having wild, fanciful ideas. At the public meeting Dr. Stockmann is declared "an enemy of the people" by the Burgomaster.

To really appreciate this particular Ibsen play you have to look at it in the context of his previous dramas, because they all represent a conflict between the playwright and his critics. In 1879 Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" ("Et dukkehjem") was produced, wherein the character of Nora pretends to be a silly little wife in order to flatter her husband, who is revealed to be a hypocritical fraud. The idea that a woman would leave her husband and children was seen as being outrageous and basically obscene. Ibsen upset his audience and critics even more in his next play, "Ghosts" ("Gengangere"), an 1881 drama that again attacks conventional morality and hypocrisy. The topic is of congenital venereal disease but the true subject is moral contamination. Mrs. Alving has buried her husband, a degenerate who has left behind a son dying from syphilis and an illegitimate daughter who is probably going to end up being a prostitute. The play ends with Mrs. Alving having to decide if she should poison her son to put him out of his misery or let his agonies persist.

Again, Ibsen was attacked for outraging conventional morality. The following year after "Ghosts" the playwright responded with "An Enemy of the People" and the character that is most identified with representing Ibsen on stage in Dr. Stockmann. The allegory is quite plain when the play is considered within the context of Ibsen's work during this period, although while Stockmann is portrayed as a victim there is a sense of destructiveness to his behavior. At the end of the play Stockman has decided to leave the town, but then changes his mind to stay and fight for those things he believes are right.

As is the case with most of Ibsen's classic works, "An Enemy of the People" speaks to larger issues than those in conflict in the play. The debate is over the bad water pipes at the new baths, but the true conflict is over the clash of private and public morality. Dr. Stockmann is by far the most idealistic of Ibsen's characters, and that fact that he is opposed by his own brother, the Burgomaster, harkens back to Genesis and the fight between Cain and Able. As was the case with "Ghosts," there is an ambiguous ending where what happens next can be seen as going either way given your own inclinations as a member of the audience.

Both of the Stockman brothers are flawed. Dr. Stockman's idealism is at odds with the practical realities of the world in which he lives while the Burgomaster ignores ethical concerns. Ultimately, Ibsen is not forcing us to choose between the two but rather to reject both in terms of some middle ground. The Burgomaster is certainly old school, believing those in authority get to make all the decisions and that the people must subordinate themselves to the society. But he was the one who made the mistake of putting the new water pipes in the wrong place, so even his claims that he is looking out for the welfare of the community are dishonest. Dr. Stockman argues for individual freedom and the right of free expression, but his attempt to fix the problem ignores any effort at persuasion or building public support. He also seems to take pleasure in be able to show that his brother made a mistake. Still, in the end we have to favor the doctor over the mayor because his integrity is clearly stronger, while still recognizing that his idealism is tragically flawed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Never Mind that the Water Is Poisoned!" 23 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Well written, and realistic. Thomas is a well-meaning but rather tactless environmentalist. His brother Peter is more concerned about Thomas making a fool out of himself than trying to fix the situation. Just like in real life, there are no easy solutions but there are plenty of alibis and irrational negotiations from politicians ("If you'll just take back what you said..."). The only friend Thomas really has is the reader.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "L'individualisme intransigeant" 28 Nov 2000
By TheIrrationalMan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The action centres around a feud between two brothers -- Dr. Stockmann and his brother, the mayor of a small town in the northern part of Norway. The issue is the contamination of the local baths by bacilli supposed to cause typhoid fever. The Mayor -- (who is an impossible dolt, whose like can hardly be conceived to be a mayor in any European town) -- argues for piecemeal improvements in the bathing facility. Stockmann, whose name is roughly translated into "The Chastiser", urges the drastic closure of the premisses. The disagreement escalates into a violent altercation, in which the angry townspeople, in support of their mayor, unite and denounce the self-willed Stockmann as "an enemy of the people". Stockmann is presented by Ibsen as a fiery, stubborn, brutally honest egoist who would "rather ruin his community than see it thrive on lies and fraud" -- an embattled individual who sees himself as a champion of truth in opposition to the stupidity of the herd of cattle. The last act is a highly tense illustration of the follies and indignities to which anyone can be subject for daring to oppose the social norm. Ibsen has Stockmann eventually succeed in discovering that "the strongest man is mightiest alone", though this is a naively Romantic notion, the consolation of the defeated in the light of the colossal ignorance of one's fellow beings. Overall, an interesting dramatisation of an individual's case against public opinion.
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