Ibsen on the English Stage: ‘The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating’

  • Inga-Stina Ewbank


The vast and vague title of this paper has been staring me in the face ever since I accepted the invitation to speak to the Vancouver Conference on Ibsen. Whatever it might suggest, I do not intend to attempt the task, so ably performed by many others, of tracing the fortunes of Ibsen on the English stage, nor the possibly more intriguing task of defining Ibsen’s function as, in Henry James’s words, ‘a sort of register of the critical atmosphere, a barometer of the intellectual weather’.1 I simply want to speak, from a limited experience as a translator, of some problems involved in putting Ibsen texts on the contemporary English stage, and of the light thrown by those problems on Ibsen’s dramatic and verbal structures. My subtitle is therefore the working title of a general rather than specific inquiry into whether, how, and why the Ibsenite pudding is eaten by English audiences.


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  1. 1.
    Henry James, ‘On the Occasion of Hedda Gabler’, New Review (June 1891); reprinted in Michael Egan (ed), Ibsen: The Critical Heritage (London, 1972), p. 234.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    George Eliot, Middlemarch (Harmondsworth, 1970), p. 243.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (London, 1961), p. 487.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    J. P. Stern,,Nietzsche (London, 1978), p. 79.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Michael Black, Poetic Drama as Mirror of the Will (London, 1977), ch. to.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Errol Durbach 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inga-Stina Ewbank

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