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Four Major Plays: (Doll's House; Ghosts; Hedda Gabler; and The Master Builder): "Doll's House", "Ghosts", "Hedda Gabler" and "Master Builder" (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 5 Mar 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (5 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192833871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192833877
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 1.8 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"A very well done introduction, together with a compact and convenient collection of plays."--Jan Gorak, University of Denver"James McFarlane's introduction is exemplary and his translation masterful. A pleasure to read!"--Brice Thompson, University of California, Santa Cruz"By far the best translation of Ibsen available. Every detail in an Ibsen play is important; every detail and most manners of the Norwegian are accuretly recaptured in these masterly translations."--Simon Williams, University of California, Santa Barbara"A fine, lively translation of these classics. Also, it is great to have these particular four Ibsen plays in one volume."--Harold J. Baxter, Ph.D., Trinity College"The McFarlane translation was a pleasant surprise. Having used various translators and editions, I'll stop here, content, well-content with content and format."--Reg Saner, University of Colorado (I just enter 'em)"These excellent and beautifully rendered plays make accessible to students a variety of themes - late 19th century feminism, the overbearing bourgeois society - at an affordable price."--Barbara B. Davis, Antioch College

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JEMc on 23 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great collection of Ibsen's plays - a must read for anyone interested in influential drama or literature. There is, however, a newer edition available here: Four Major Plays: (Doll's House; Ghosts; Hedda Gabler; and The Master Builder) (Oxford World's Classics).

The plays chosen are an excellent demonstration of why Ibsen is seen as a major part of the Realist movement; 'Hedda Gabler' raises questions of sexuality and 'A Doll's House' challenges the role of women in society. All four plays were groundbreaking and hugely controversial in their day and are well worth reading. This edition comes complete with a useful introduction outlining Ibsen's life and key contextual factors relevant to each play, as well as some critical comments.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A translation to beat all others 21 Jun 2001
By Stephen Taylor - Published on
Format: Paperback
James McFarlane's and Jens Arup's translations of Ibsen have long been classics and are arguably the best. Although they were published in England almost forty years ago, they still sound remarkably fresh and will be in print for many years to come.
In "A Doll's House" (1879), Ibsen casts us into the world of Nora Helmer, a young Norwegian housewife and Nordic Madame Bovary. Highlighting the restricted position of women in male-dominated society, the play sparked such an uproar in Scandinavia when it appeared that "many a social invitation during that winter bore the words: 'You are requested not to mention Ibsen's Doll's House!'" In fact, Hedwig Niemann-Raabe, the actress who was to play Nora on tour in Germany, was so appalled at the ending of this play -- at this female "monster" -- that she demanded Ibsen write an alternative one in German, which he did (a "barbaric outrage", in his words). McFarlane has appended this German-language ending (and a translation in English).
Based on the theme, "The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children," "Ghosts" (1881) is one of Ibsen's most riveting plays. Like "A Doll's House", it, too, was denounced on its début ("crapulous stuff", "an open drain", one London reviewer called it -- certainly a Victorian exaggeration). As in most of his plays, Ibsen probes the hypocrisies of patriarchal society, which he deems to be rotten at its core, and stultifying provincial life ("Doesn't the sun ever shine here?"). Typically, he also casts women in a favorable light.
"A Doll's House" and "Ghosts" established Ibsen's reputation as one of the finest playwrights in Europe, but his next two plays -- "Hedda Gabler" (1890) and "The Master Builder" (1892) -- gave him undisputed international fame. As McFarlane points out, the 1890s "were the years when the publication of a new Ibsen play sent profound cultural reverberations throughout Europe and the world." "Hedda Gabler" marks Ibsen's shift away from highly controversial dramas primarily concerned with social and sexual injustice to "domestic" plays that addressed the struggle of individuals to control each other, people who "want to control the world, but cannot control [themselves]." "Hedda Gabler" is a thoroughly electrifying drama about a married woman's devouring sense of decay and confinement. "The Master Builder", which Ibsen coupled with "Hedda Gabler", is his riveting look into sexual potency and the domination of youth by age.
These plays are not as dark and dirty as they might seem. Whatever reviewers may have said about them when they came out and whatever gloomy stuff psychiatrists have written about them since, if you're at all familiar with prime-time television, they won't offend you -- in fact, you probably wont even lift an eyebrow. Still, I found myself glued to them for hours and I've read them before. Find a copy for your shelf!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Masterful Ibsen 27 July 2007
By Biblibio - Published on
Format: Paperback
Rather predictably, the first play offered here is "A Doll's House", the most famous of Ibsen's works. Strangely enough, this ended up NOT being my favorite of the four plays provided in this small collection, but I'll get to that in a moment. Next we have "Ghosts", "Hedda Gabler", and finally "The Master Builder".

"A Doll's House", 86 pages long, is also provided here with the alternate German ending. The ending was deemed so scandalous that Ibsen was forced to write up another ending, in which things go slightly differently. "A Doll's House", a play about a woman who rather does the unthinkable (in that time, at least) to help her husband and then once again to herself, is remarkably interesting. Ibsen plays are generally extremely fun to analyze, simply because there's always something there. Nobody would read dull plays, after all. The alternate ending provided is actually the most interesting part of all. It shows us what the impact of this play was on society at the time that it came out. Perhaps we find these things somewhat more "normal" (though they're actually not, and are still considered rather scandalous) and acceptable, so this ending really reminds us of WHY this play was so impressive and WHY Ibsen was such a strange character for his time. An intriguing play, though not my favorite.

No, that falls to "Ghosts". A play that once again touches on difficult subjects that are most intriguing, "Ghosts" chilled me from beginning to end. It was a more interesting play, overall, because it seemed to me more human. That's not to say that "A Doll's House" wasn't human (it definitely is), but there was something about "Ghosts" that touched me more than the other plays. At 73-pages and with fewer characters, "Ghosts" is an easier play to really read, and certainly an enjoyable one.

"Hedda Gabler" changes things a bit. The plot suddenly becomes a bit more interesting with a touch more mystery and intrigue. There are moments that positively creeped me out ("I'm burning your child") and moments where I just shivered. The ending is a bit more intense than in the previous plays, though less surprising. The play felt very different from "Ghosts" or "A Doll's House", though it was still clearly an Ibsen "morbid but interesting" play.

For me, "The Master Builder" is the odd play out. It's the one that, a. Bored me the most, b. Seemed to take the longest (though only barely longer than "A Doll's House, at 88 pages, and shorter than the 97-paged long "Hedda Gabler"), and c. Seemed the least realistic. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the ending wouldn't seem to work on stage. I felt like at some point Ibsen kind of forgot that he was writing a play and mentioned things that wouldn't really work (unless they have a complex blue screen, but those didn't exist in his time...). There are ways around it, certainly, and it's a minor flaw, but I found that "The Master Building" just didn't have that spark that the other plays seemed to have. No, it's not a BAD play, but it's not my favorite among these either.

While there are many options out there for buying Ibsen plays, this one is certainly a good buy. While the Signet edition also gives us four plays for a few dollars cheaper, instead of the incredible "Ghosts", we get the reasonable "The Wild Duck". For those few dollars, I'd opt for "Ghosts". Also, the book type itself is better in this edition as opposed to the Signet Classics one.

Highly recommended to anyone interesting in a good play to analyze and enjoy. Enjoy!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Dolls House 8 Oct 2013
By Berenice Melchor - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dolls House is a reminder of Breaking Bad television series, except with switch on the protagonist. good for wanting to hear about the ignorant yet caring and oppressed wife.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
old but still good 9 Jan 2007
By A. Svenson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it was an older book, but it was in good shape. good plays too.
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