Since his death in 1906, Ibsen has achieved the status of a modern classic. The impact of his work on twentieth-century theatre has been enormous. Directors have explored approaches to his plays ranging from the naturalist to the expressionist, while playwrights as diverse as Harold Pinter and Arthur Miller have been influenced by his ideas. However, Ibsen often shocked and bewildered his contemporaries. The daunting complexity of his work baffled critics who were unwilling or unable to probe beneath the surface detail of his plays to seek out the patterns of meaning beneath the dialogue, the hidden poetry. He was accused of morbid pessimism by those who failed to recognise the life-affirming quality of his vision, despite the sombre tonality of his work. Modern criticism has led to a far clearer picture of the richness and subtlety of his writing; his plays have been explored from almost every conceivable critical starting point.
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