What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?
A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has withstood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as force fully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.
Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien, Norway, on March 10, 1829, into a wealthy family. He had five other siblings. In 1843, Ibsen moved to Grimstad to study as a pharmacist's assistant. He applied to Christiana University, but was rejected.
Ibsen became an assistant stage manager and dramatic author at the Norwegian Theatre in Bergen in 1851, writing Lady Inger (1855), The Feats at Solhoug (1856), and Olaf Liljekrans (1857). These plays were written in verse, and Ibsen drew from popular folklore and myths to create them. He later took a position at the Norwegian Theatre in Christiana and married Suzannah Thoresen in 1858. They had one child, Sigurd.
In 1863, Ibsen received small government grants and traveled to Europe. At the time, his plays focused on interpersonal relationships, rather than emphasizing plot. Later, Ibsen changed his writing focus and took on modern realistic themes. Some of his works from this period include A Doll's House (1879), which created a heated public debate over women's rights, Ghosts (1881), and An Enemy of the People (1882). He began relying heavily on metaphor and symbolism during his realism period, as demonstrated in The Wild Duck (1884) and Hedda Gabler (1890). His final focus turned from social concerns to the isolation of the individual, as portrayed in The Master Builder (1892).
Ibsen's poor health ended his writing career. He suffered several strokes and died on May 23, 1906.