Hedda Gabler: Genesis and Reception

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Henrik Ibsen lived in self-exile for almost twenty-seven years from 1864 to 1891 in different parts of Europe, mainly in Germany and Italy. In the course of his exile, he lived in Rome (1864-1868), Dresden (1868-1875), Munich (1875-1878), Rome (1878-1885) and Munich (1885-1891), returning to Norway only for brief visits. During this period he produced many world-known plays like A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, The Lady from the Sea. Long before he returned home in 1891, he had become the world's most famous dramatist. Hedda Gabler was the last of Ibsen's plays to be published while he was living abroad. It was written in Munich in 1890.

It is uncertain when Ibsen first had the idea that resulted in Hedda Gabler. But according to some researchers, Ibsen’s relations with Emilie Bardach led the playwright to think of writing Hedda Gabler. But we cannot make any such claim with certainty. Though there are some references in their mutual correspondence about a play yet we cannot guess that the play referred in the letters of Ibsen and Emilie is Hedda Gabler or some other play. A fairly large amount of material on Hedda Gabler – notes, sketches of plans, drafts – has been preserved, but most of it is undated. For example, the first draft of the play is entitled "Hedda" and the first act is undated. But the second act has a date on it i.e. August 13th 1890. Later on, Ibsen put this draft aside and on September 6th he started a fresh draft of the second act. Other dates in this manuscript show that on October 22nd the fair copy of the first act was completed. The completion date of the play, according to a letter of Ibsen to August Larsen, was November 16, 1890.

Ibsen also changed the name of the play from ‘Hedda’ to Hedda Gabler’, later on. In a letter dated December 4th 1890 to Moritz Prozor, who translated the play into French, Ibsen explained why he had chosen "Gabler" instead of "Tesman": “In that way I wanted to...
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