About The Book
In 1890, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen completed Hedda Gabler, a play that questioned the role of women in Victorian society through its portrayal of its title character, a young woman trapped in a disappointing marriage. Having been the center of a glittering social world in her father’s home, Gabler chafes at her more humble role as the wife of a scholar. Some audiences have viewed Gabler as driven to desperation simply because her world has turned out to be less charmed than she hoped. For others, she is a victim of her times, unwilling to devote herself, as was expected of her, to the duties of home.
Jon Robin Baitz’s new adaptation provides readers with a Hedda Gabler for the twenty-first century. The lens through which Baitz views Gabler has been shaped by contemporary feminism and the theatrical tradition beginning with Beckett, yet he preserves what is most fascinating about this play centered on a character who is at once difficult, petty, desperate, and ambitious, but still elicits the sympathy of audiences. Baitz’s adaptation makes it clear why readers continue to be drawn to Hedda Gabler more than a century after it was written: Gabler is a timeless figure, searching for a happiness that will always elude her.
“What makes Ibsen’s play a masterpiece, not just of feminist theatre, but a linchpin of modern drama, is that this play, like all great works, offer the opportunities to glimpse the real, horrible, yet often comic mechanics of emotional violence at very close range.” –Jon Robin Baitz
“This revised text . . . flows quite naturally. . . . [Baitz has] boldly chipped away at the romantic patina and found a fragile, contradictory and frightened soul.” –Ben Brantley, The New York Times
“While other productions of Hedda Gabler derived their strength from the story’s melodramatic elements or its support for burgeoning feminist ideals, Baitz focuses instead on subtler emotional currents that bubble up unexpectedly. As a result, the story becomes a more universal tragedy about all people, male or female, who find themselves trapped in a dead end of their own design.” –The Boston Herald