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Noises Off: On Ibsen

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Chapter Summary

When the author reads Ibsen, he always hears noises, not the noises of the words, but the noises behind and between the words, noises that risk reducing those words to mere noises, to birdsong. Ibsen?s noises off are neutral and they, in turn, neutralize existence, rendering it suddenly meaningless, vacuous. These noises are the sounds of things thinging, and the thinging of the spaces between things, the low reverberating meaningless hum of life in the world. In so many of Ibsen?s dramas, this background, the hooves of the white horses, the screaming of the white bird, the gnawing of the rats, is the presentiment of death. In listening to this noise, in allowing its ringing stillness to neutralize existence, one welcomes life?s clandestine companion, namely death. This chapter deals with the character of Hedda Gabler and the central centennial question of how we can inherit Ibsen.

Keywords: Hedda Gabler; Ibsen?s dramas; Ibsen?s noises off



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