Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Peer Gynt
Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906)
Peer Gynt, by Henrik Ibsen (1867). Peer Gynt is the victim of an overmastering imagination. He brags of wonderful deeds true only in his childish dreams. At a wedding he steals the bride to prove himself a daredevil to the guests who ridicule his lying tales. His ideal of himself as self-sufficient is only self-indulgence and self-seeking. After a series of adventures in the mountains, a meeting with “The Boyg” the spirit of compromise, for whom he turns aside, typical of the obstacles he goes around and never surmounts, and an amour with the foul daughter of the troll-king, typical of his sensuality, he leaves Solveig, the young girl who has followed him to the mountain and goes to seek his fortune in America. Trade in slaves, idols, Bibles, and rum makes him wealthy. Some companions maroon him on a desert shore in Africa. He finds the Sultan’s white horse and robes, and is acclaimed a prophet by the Arabs, until he loses all through infatuation for a dancing girl. His answer to the riddle of the sphinx is his solution of life, egotism. He is crowned emperor of himself by the inmates of a madhouse. Returning to Norway, he is shipwrecked but escapes death by pushing another man from the boat. However, Death is waiting for him at the cross roads in the guise of the Button Molder who will melt him back to nothing. Hell will not receive him since “it needs strength and earnestness to sin.” Solveig has waited for him all the years. In her memory he has lived in faith and hope and love, “as in God’s thought.” The lesson is as in Brand self-realization through self-surrender.  1

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