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Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography Paperback – 9 Dec 2010


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Robert Ferguson was born in the UK in 1948 and left school in 1966. He worked at a number of jobs including postman, hospital porter, deckhand on a trawler, factory worker, cook, driver etc before enrolling at UCL, London in 1976 and taking a course in Scandinavian Studies. He graduated in 1980. In 1983 he emigrated to Norway and has made his home there since. He began his literary career as a radio dramatist, translating and adapting for radio works by Knut Hamsun and Henrik Ibsen for the BBC. He has also written eleven original radio plays and twice won the BBC Methuen Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Drama, in 1984 and 1986. His first literary biography was Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Best Biography Award in 1987. It also won the University of London J.G.Robertson Award. In 1996 Enigma was dramatized as a 6-part television series by NRK (Norwegian State Television) As well as literary biographies and a history of the Vikings, Ferguson has written two novels, published only in Norwegian.

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Robert Ferguson was born in Blackpool in 1948. After completing Norwegian studies at University College in London, he took up a state scholarship in Norway in1983, and has since then lived in Oslo. Ferguson is an award-winning dramatist and has translated and adapted several of Ibsen's plays for the BBC. Apart from Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography he is also the author of two other highly acclaimed biographies, Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun and Henry Miller: A Life.

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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
How does a shy person fulfill artistic destiny? 25 July 2003
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ferguson relates in his preface that he is an Englishman with a Norwegian wife. In the 1980's he lived in Norway and he speaks the language. He was asked by the BBC to translate and adapt some of the plays. I have read Michael Meyer's biography of Ibsen more than once, and I deem this to be a worthy enhancement of our understanding of Ibsen.
Ibsen chose voluntary exile for most of his writing life. In 1336 Norway became part of Denmark. In 1814 Sweden took over as a colonial power. When Ibsen was growing up there was a desire to establish a homegrown theater. The nationalist urge culminated in King Hakon VII ascending to the throne in 1905. Popular perceptions of Norway as gloomy are based upon the art of Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch. The Norwegian langauge was in a constant state of flux during Ibsens's life as a consequence of nationalism.
Henrik was born in 1828. His father was amusing but unsuccessful in his enterprises and his mother was self-sacrificing. Henrik was the oldest. He was shy, gloomy, solitary, and bright. He liked to play with a little play theater and as a boy of about twelve put on puppet shows. When his schooling ended he went to work in Grimstad as the apprentice of an apothecary. His solitary ways made him an object of suspicion. He had an illegitimate son, a matter of guilt and shame.
After five years he moved to employment at a different dispensary which became a meeting place for intellectually involved youth. He wrote a verse drama in 1849. For the next decade or more he was involved in theater management and direction in Bergen and in Kristiania, (Oslo). He was married in 1858 and a son was born in 1859.
Ibsen spent many years away from Norway living in Italy and in Germany. After 1876 Ibsen wrote modern works for a cast of chamber players. HEDDA GABLER is one of the plays that easily retains its modernity. His final play, WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN, can be taken as an allegory of the lives of Ibsen and his wife, Suzannah. Henrik Ibsen died in 1906. Ferguson's discussions of the plays in the context of the life of Ibsen is very fine.
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