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Beautiful Sanctuaries in Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century European Literature


Hugo Walter

This book is a collection of wonderful and thoughtful essays that explore the theme of beautiful sanctuaries in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European literature. The book focuses especially on selected works by Percy Shelley, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Henrik Ibsen, and James Hilton. These sanctuaries of light, natural beauty, and tranquility comfort, nurture, and soothe the heart, mind, and soul of the individual, and inspire creative expression.


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Chapter 3 Henrik Ibsen 127


Henrik Ibsen This essay will discuss the quest for transcendent spaces and for a sense of sanctuary in several dramas of Henrik Ibsen. In some dramas such a quest for liberation or transcendence is the primary thematic focus. In other dramas, such as The Master Builder, the quest for liberation or transcendence is intimately connected to the theme of creativity. I will show that in various dramas the notion of a sanctuary exists or is developed at a threshold moment, the threshold of day and night or the threshold of life and death. That the sense of sanctuary is in a threshold context perhaps ensures its fragility and uncertainty. In post-Romantic European literature places of sanctuary, sanctuaries of light and serenity, can be very beautiful. However, they are typically as fragile and transient as they are beautiful. In the literary landscape of European realism it is difficult to preserve and sustain such sanctuaries of light and tranquility. In The Master Builder (1892) the notion of absolute commitment to his professional work is of the utmost importance to Solness as the master builder. Solness speaks in Act 3 of the drama about the development of his creativity and sense of commitment. Solness states that in his youth he was reared in an atmosphere which respected the divine and religious faith. So as Solness began his career as an architect, he thought that building churches was the most significant goal one could have as a creative individual. Solness proceeds to explain to...

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