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PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER III - IBSEN THE ROMANTIC

My book is poetry, and if it is not poetry, then it will be.'-Ibsen to Bjornson.
IBSEN was a poet during the earlier part of his life. He began as a lyricist, and his first plays are either in verse or are inspired by an imaginative contemplation of the past. When he was about forty, a change occurred, the importance of which has been differently estimated. Certain critics, both friendly and hostile, regard it as a fundamental change. They argue that with The League of Youth the real or realistic Ibsen begins to emerge, the singer dies, the social castigator is born, the scene clarifies and darkens, and ideas come to the front which do not necessarily contradict previous ideas, but which are given a prominence that entirely alters the dramatic emphasis. We pass from the epic to the domestic. Peer Gynt becomes Hialmar Ekdal, and Brand as Gregers Werle tears the spectacles of illusion from his eyes, and they work out their tragedy not among forests and fjords, but in a photographic studio opening into a sort of aviary. The aviary contains a few dead Christmas trees, also a water trough, some rabbits but no bears, one wild duck and that a damaged one. We could not be further from romance, the critics say, and turn, if we are friendly, to the character drawing, the technique, and the moral and social issues ; if they are hostile, to the squalor. ` Somewhere in the course of the battle of his life Ibsen had a lyric Pegasus killed under him,' writes Brandes. 'Novel and perilous nonsense,' wrote the Daily Telegraph. The critics agree in thinking that the poetry, if ever there was any, has gone.
Has it gone ? Can the habits of forty years be set aside ? Of twenty years-yes ; most people are romantic at twenty, owing to lack of experience. As they grow older life offers various alternatives, such as worldliness or philosophy or the sense of

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