Continuing from the last post… in the course of reading Chesterton’s biography of Bernard Shaw, I got curious about the Norwegian playwrightHenrik Ibsen and began reading his plays.. (Sigh! I really don’t know if I can get over this tendency to get distracted in to new things so easily!)
I started with “Ghosts” and went on to “The Wild Duck“. Whenever I read a play (I read very few)… first thing that I love about it used to be the dialogues and in the case of Bergman, it was also the descriptions. But in these two plays, I primarily liked the narrative as a whole. Although both these Ibsenian plays had some kind of similarities in terms of the characterizations (and also with those two or three August Strindberg plays that I read last year….Perhaps, more on these thoughts later!)… I am particularly affected by this concept of “Life-Lie” or the Norwegian word- “Livslognen” from “The Wild Duck”
Here is an excerpt from the play, to put the word in context:
Gregers: And what remedy are you applying in Hialmar’s case?
Relling: My usual one. I am cultivating the life-illusion* in him.
Gregers: Life-illusion? I didn’t catch what you said.
Relling: Yes, I said illusion. For illusion, you know, is the stimulating principle.
Gregers: Poor unfortunate old man! Yes; he has indeed had to narrow the ideals of his youth.
Relling: While I think of it, Mr. Werle, junior — don’t use that foreign word: ideals. We have the excellent native word: lies.
Gregers: Do you think the two things are related?
Relling: Yes, just about as closely as typhus and putrid fever.
Gregers: Dr. Relling, I shall not give up the struggle until I have rescued Hialmar from your clutches!
Relling: So much the worse for him. Rob the average man of his life-illusion, and you rob him of his happiness at the same stroke.
(* The actual term is livslognen. Its translated as Life-lie, Life-illusion etc in the various English translations of the play.)
I can’t explain the multitude of thoughts crossing themselves inside me, as I repeat the words “Life Lie” to myself again and again. I can neither accept nor deny the idea. It looks so unrealistically real…. also really unrealistic to me and both at once too! It seems too good to be true..and too bad to be false ;)… perhaps, “livslognen” is really meant to be that.
What is your livslognen? What is mine? Reality, perhaps! 😉