Volume 65 Issue 3, September 2022, pp. 271-354

Playwright Henrik Ibsen was featured on countless postcards during the postcard craze of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Encompassing photographic portraits, snapshots, sculptures, monuments, etchings, paintings, and caricatures, the historical interest of these postcards arises not simply from the range of images of the playwright they featured but from the quantity of cards that were published and circulated, how the cards were used and by whom, and what their uses suggest about Ibsen’s popular reputation, reception, significance, impact, and reach. This essay considers the range of Ibsen postcards and also their uses, taking into account the messages inscribed on the cards, the senders and recipients, and the ways the postcards circulated as much as the Ibsen images themselves. In doing so, it considers how the postcards animate the singular figure of the iconic playwright they represent and collectively constitute a lively archive – print and manuscript, visual and textual – that conjures a variety of different Ibsens. In their diversity, myriad uses, and international range, the sampling of Ibsen postcards – and postcard Ibsens – collected here illuminate the popular status, wide reach, and domestication of a key figure in the canon of modern drama and world literature and a beacon of first-wave feminism.

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