Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre. His major works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll's House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, and The Master Builder.
Several of his plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when European theater was required to model strict mores of family life and propriety. Ibsen's work examined the realities that lay behind many façades, revealing much that was disquieting to many contemporaries. It utilized a critical eye and free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality. The poetic and cinematic play Peer Gynt, however, has strong surreal elements.
Ibsen is often ranked as one of the truly great playwrights in the European tradition. Richard Hornby describes him as "a profound poetic dramatist—the best since Shakespeare". He influenced other playwrights and novelists such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Eugene O'Neill. Many critics consider him the greatest playwright since Shakespeare.
Ibsen wrote his plays in Danish and they were published by the Danish publisher Gyldendal. Although most of his plays are set in Norway—often in places reminiscent of Skien, the port town where he grew up—Ibsen lived for 27 years in Italy and Germany, and rarely visited Norway during his most productive years. Born into a merchant family connected to the patriciate of Skien, his dramas were shaped by his family background. He was the father of Prime Minister Sigurd Ibsen.
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