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The Master Builder

The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen
By: (1828-1906)

Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, first published in 1892, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr. Herdal. With the entrance of Hilda Wangel, a young woman whom he met as a child ten years ago, his life acquires a new focal point, one that will mean the end of him.

First Page:


By Henrik Ibsen

Translated by Edmund Gosse and William Archer

Introduction by William Archer


With The Master Builder or Master Builder Solness , as the title runs in the original we enter upon the final stage in Ibsen's career. "You are essentially right," the poet wrote to Count Prozor in March 1900, "when you say that the series which closes with the Epilogue ( When We Dead Awaken ) began with Master Builder Solness ."

"Ibsen," says Dr. Brahm, "wrote in Christiania all the four works which he thus seems to bracket together Solness , Eyolf , Borkman , and When We Dead Awaken . He returned to Norway in July 1891, for a stay of indefinite length; but the restless wanderer over Europe was destined to leave his home no more.... He had not returned, however, to throw himself, as of old, into the battle of the passing day. Polemics are entirely absent from the poetry of his old age. He leaves the State and Society at peace. He who had departed as the creator of Falk [in Love's Comedy ] now, on his return, gazes into the secret places of human nature and the wonder of his own soul... Continue reading book >>

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