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The chapter sees Ibsen’s success as a playwright through the lens of his books as material, visual, technological, commercial and social objects. It explores his publisher Gyldendal’s strategies for enhancing Ibsen’s name in the market by means of his books. In the course of Ibsen’s more than thirty years of collaboration with Gyldendal, his books’ bindings went through three main phases: The rococo revival period (1867–81), the ‘Ibsen signature binding’ (1882–98) and the Collected Works (1898). All three phases take into account the taste of readers, current ideas in craft and design, new technology, as well as representing consciously wrought marketing moves. The lavishly decorated cloth bindings were introduced in full agreement with Ibsen and they reflected a pull towards the sentimental among his middle-class book buyers. The signature binding was a decorated prototype cloth binding exclusively designed for Ibsen. The claim is that the signature binding, by means of its uniform design as well as by making the author’s name the most eye-catching part of the front cover, utilized Romantic ideas about the author-genius.
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