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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: April 2021

Chapter 12 - Capitalism

from Part II - Culture and Society


This chapter traces how the material conditions and themes of Ibsen’s oeuvre reveal his interest in the culture of capitalism. The transformation of literary markets, the spread of economic ideas, and Ibsen’s financial struggles early in his career influenced both the content and form of his drama, which pays close attention to such prevalent features of nineteenth-century economic life as debt, credit, financialization and the invisible hand of the market. Although Ibsen never studied economics in depth, his own investment activities, coupled with his talent for observation, allowed him to capture European modernity in its transition from Christian ethos to the secular values of capitalism.

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