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The Best Henrik Ibsen Plays Everyone Should Read

The best plays of Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is undoubtedly the most famous Norwegian playwright who has ever lived. He wrote a number of classic plays in a variety of modes and genres, so in this post we’ve limited ourselves to five of Ibsen’s very best plays.

Hedda Gabler. The role of Hedda Gabler is often considered ‘the female Hamlet’, since actresses want to tackle the role and offer their own interpretation of the character. When her father died, the headstrong Hedda married Tesman, a struggling history lecturer, but soon realises she has made a terrible mistake. This 1890 play is one of Ibsen’s finest achievements, with the tragedy of Hedda’s life unfolding before us on the stage. Read the rest of this entry

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A Very Short Biography of George Sand

The interesting life of a pioneering French writer

‘George’ was the pseudonym of choice for nineteenth-century women writers: George Eliot (Marian Evans), George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne). But these women were following an unconventional French writer in choosing to Georgify themselves for publication. In this post, we offer a very short biography of George Sand (1804-76), focusing on the most fascinating aspects of her life. Read the rest of this entry

Seven of the Best Epic Poems by Female Poets

The best epics by women

The IliadThe OdysseyParadise Lost – these are some of the titles that immediately spring to mind when we think of epic poetry. But this ignores the contributions made to epic poetry by women writers over the millennia. Here are seven of the best classic epic poems written by women.

Enheduanna, The Descent of Inanna. This is not just the oldest female epic; it’s the oldest work of poetry written by any named poet, male or female. Enheduanna was a Sumerian high priestess who lived in the 23rd century BC – that’s around 1,500 years before Homer. Enheduanna lived in the city of Ur (in modern-day Iraq), and was a priestess of the Sumerian moon god Nanna. This poem describes the goddess Inanna’s descent into the underworld – Inanna being the daughter of Nanna, and the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and wisdom, among other things. Although it’s a short work (it runs to little over 400 lines), it contains many of the elements we associate with epic poetry, and elements of the story are found in the later myths of the descent of Ishtar and the Greek story of Persephone and Hades. You can read a modern English translation of Enheduanna’s poem here. Read the rest of this entry