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Ibsen's Hedda GablerPhilosophical Perspectives$
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Kristin Gjesdal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190467876

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190467876.001.0001

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The Scars of Modern Life

The Scars of Modern Life

Hedda Gabler in Adorno’s Prism

(p.92) 4 The Scars of Modern Life
Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

Frode Helland

Oxford University Press

In Minima Moralia Theodor W. Adorno included three fragments or aphorisms on Ibsen. Here Adorno discusses Ibsen’s modernity, and the actuality of the realist dramas for Adorno’s own modernity six decades later. In this chapter I take Adorno’s reflections on Ibsen as a point of departure, and focus on the protagonist, her distance, her thinking, her reflection, as they are expressed in some of the central scenes in the play. In order to understand the play one has to take Hedda’s past into account, and see the importance of her ideals of “vine leaves in the hair,” on the one hand, and “beauty,” on the other, and not least to see how they relate to past and future—with consequences for a possible interpretation of the end of the play. Adorno’s reflections on the play bring out its negativity, and its relevance today.

Keywords:   Ibsen, Adorno, Hedda Gabler, drama, modernity, aestheticism, ideology, critique

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