Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
Stoning the Prophets

By Various

(On page 623 appears a sample of the weapons with which Privilege defends itself upon the political field. It seems worth while to include at this place a sample of what the revolutionary poet has to encounter. The following are comments of newspapers and weekly reviews in London at the time of the first productions of the plays of Henrik Ibsen, in 1891. They are taken partly from an article by William Archer, “Ghosts and Gibberings,” Pall Mall Gazette, April 8, 1891; and partly from another article by the same writer, “The Mausoleum of Ibsen,” Fortnightly Review, July, 1893)
  London Truth, March 19, 1891, discussing a reading of “Ghosts”:

AN obscure Scandinavian dramatist and poet, a crazy fanatic, and determined Socialist, is to be trumpeted into fame for the sake of the estimable gentleman who can translate his works, and the enterprising tradesmen who publish them.… The unwomanly woman, the unsexed female, and the whole army of unprepossessing cranks in petticoats … sat open-mouthed and without a blush on their faces, whilst a Socialist orator read aloud “Ghosts,” the most loathsome of Ibsen’s plays.… If you have seen one play by Ibsen you have seen them all. A disagreeable and nasty woman; an egotistical and preachy man; a philosophical sensualist; dull and undramatic dialogue. The few independent people who have sat out a play by Ibsen … have said to themselves, Put this stuff before the play-going public, risk it at the evening theatre, remove your claque, exhaust your attendance of the Socialistic and the sexless, and then see where your Ibsen will be. I have never known an audience yet that cared to pay to be bored.

London Daily Telegraph, reviewing the first performance of “Ghosts”:

IBSEN’S positively abominable play.… This disgusting representation.… Reprobation due to such as aim at infecting the modern theatre with poison after desperately inoculating themselves and others.… An open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly; a lazar-house with all its doors and windows open.… Candid foulness.… Kotzebue turned bestial and cynical.… Offensive cynicism.… Ibsen’s melancholy and malodorous world.… Absolutely loathsome and fetid.… Gross, almost putrid indecorum.… Literary carrion.… Crapulous stuff.… Novel and perilous nuisance.

Other London reviews of “Ghosts”:
  Unutterably offensive.… Prosecution under Lord Campbell’s Act.… Abominable piece.… Scandalous.—Standard.  4
  Naked loathsomeness.… Most dismal and revolting production.—Daily News.  5
  Revolting, suggestive and blasphemous.… Characters either contradictory in themselves, uninteresting or abhorrent.—Daily Chronicle.  6
  A repulsive and degrading work.—Queen.  7
  Morbid, unhealthy, unwholesome, disgusting story.… A piece to bring the stage into disrepute and dishonor with every right-thinking man and woman.—Lloyds.  8
  Merely dull dirt long drawn out.—Hawk.  9
  If any repetition of this outrage be attempted, the authorities will doubtless wake from their lethargy.—Sporting and Dramatic News.  10
  Most loathsome of all Ibsen’s plays.… Garbage and offal.—Truth.  11
  Ibsen’s putrid play called “Ghosts.” … So loathsome.—Academy.  12
  As foul and filthy a concoction as has ever been allowed to disgrace the boards in an English theatre.… Dull and disgusting.… Nastiness and malodorousness laid on thickly as with a trowel.—Era.  13
  Noisome corruption.—Stage.  14

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