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

Chapter 4 - Genres

from Part II - Culture and Society


The chapter explores the genre situation in Norway around the time of Ibsen’s debut, probing the question of why Ibsen chose to write within the genre of drama in his pursuit of a literary career. Particular political and cultural circumstances are relevant here: After centuries of foreign rule, the Norwegian cultural field was small and undeveloped when the country took up the impulses of national romanticism. In this situation, the theatre became an institution of political and cultural prestige, and constituted a forum for a cultural and literary debate that was still largely lacking in the printed press. Furthermore, the genre of drama was largely untarnished by the associations of sentimentality and femininity that still attached to the prose genres, and especially the novel. As for lyric poetry, it was a genre still not in line with the artistic ideals of romanticism, drawing heavily on classicist aesthetics, and particularly so after the death of the romantic poet Henrik Wergeland in 1845. Hence, drama would have appeared a safe genre for å budding poet, a genre that was modern, masculine, national and even potentially profitable.

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