To The Third Empire

To The Third Empire traces the evolution of Ibsen's dramatic artistry and vision from his earliest critical writings and youthful plays to the assured mastery of Ibsen's great "middle period" when he produced such major works as Love's Comedy, The Pretenders, Brand, Peer Gynt, and Emperor and Galilean. To The Third Empire therefor forms an aesthetic biography, in which key themes sounded in the earlier plays are repeated, immeasurably enriched, in the later works. We see Ibsen simultaneously discovering his subject matter, his dramatic method and ultimately his identity as a dramatic poet, first of Norway and then of the modern world. This ranks among the most impressive artistic odysseys: born in a provincial town in an obscure cultural backwater of Europe, using a language spoken by few, Ibsen was to become the writer of whom James Joyce was to declare: "It may be questioned whether any man has held so firm an empire over the thinking world in modern times."