Saturday, June 14, 2014

Peikoff on Enemy of the People

I listened to Peikoff's lecture on Ibsen's Enemy of the People, and I was very struck that he characterized Ibsen as a "Romantic Realist". That's the way Rand characterized her own literary tendencies. But there's a question in my mind about whether she saw Ibsen as a Romantic.

She manifestly thought highly of his abilities as a dramatist. She said something very positive about him in The Fountainhead, and she published a highly favorable article about him in her tightly-edited little magazine, the Objectivist. But in neither of those 2 cases was he characterized as a Romantic.

I think Ibsen's often seen as standing at a turning point, when Romanticism marched into Realism. He wrote verse plays early on, and then switched to prose plays about contemporary bourgeois characters. There's a lot of disagreement about how to classify him.

Nothing on stage is real.
The trick is just to simulate the feel
and pull them along for the ride
you helpfully provide.

2 comments:

Michael R. Brown said...

Perhaps Romantic passion, focus, clarity applied to Realist concerns and scale. A joining but not an integration. (It's interesting that Ibsen's going Realist was accompanied by a sudden total makeover of his appearance, manner, even handwriting; he suddenly became the rigid, upright, stern, reserved bear/boar we're used to.)

I've been in his apartment in Oslo, with the little piano Grieg played when he visited ... astonishing ground. He and his wife had rigidly separated rooms. And the restaurants where he used to go and sternly observe have a cameo caricature of him at their entrances!

JohnJEnright said...

He was certainly a character, and I think he has something of the actor in him, pitching his self-presentation in a calculated way. I think of him as standing outside of the movements, as bigger than that, as an unpredictable searcher.