From the Vaults: Nephi Anderson and Henrik Ibsen

As a missionary in Norway, Nephi Anderson occasionally visited art galleries and attended the theater. Below is his account of an 1892 performance of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, a relatively new play at the time. 

I’m not as familiar with Ibsen as I ought to be. Based on my reading of the play’s Wikipedia article, though, it seems Anderson’s summary of it barely scratches the surface of its complexity. 

Interestingly, Anderson mentions Ibsen in both of his Norway novels, The Castle Builder and A Daughter of the North. His commentary on Ibsen in The Castle Builder may give us a clue to how he felt about A Doll’s House:

On the return trip, he occupied himself with his books. He read Ibsen again, feeling more keenly than ever this writer’s cynicism, irony, and resentment against the social orders of the day. Ibsen’s vindictive thrusts found an echo in Harald’s heart. (141)

The journal entry itself reveals little about Anderson’s initial response to the play:

Mch. 26. 1892
            Last Sunday heard Pastor
Mortensen give a short
lecture of Utah with
views. the views were
good but his comments
were the usual trash.
            Last night went to the
Christiana Theater for first
time. The piece was Ibsen’s
Dukke Hjem” A Doll’s
House. There is no scenic
effect, the interest lying
in the acting and the

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peculiar action of the
play. The two leading parts
were well taken.—The play
is—A home with an inex-
perienced impulsive wom-
an as wife and mother. She
thinks that money and pleas-
sure is the chief aim of life,
and incidentaly becomes a
forger. By a complication
of events the family get
out of the trouble, but
during the trials the wom-
ans eyes are opened, as
it were and she sees that
she and her husband take
a selfish view of life etc.
She finds out that she does
not love him and that

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it is her duty to part from
him. The Curtain goes down
on the last act with the wife
leaving the home of her hus-
band and children.
            The days are getting long,
and the weather is fine. 

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