Music made me read this play. Have you ever heard these songs?
They were written by Grieg, along with many other songs as the incidental music for Ibsen’s play. It’s a great experience to read the words that inspired those famous melodies.
Aside from the music, the play is brilliant on its own. It’s the story of a wholly self-centered anti-hero who is not good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell. (Ironically, Peer’s flaw—for all his selfishness—is not being himself!) Aside from the underlying Pelagianism, the scenes at the end with the Button-Molder are incredibly poignant. Listen to the Button-Molder:
But, my friend, that precisely is your offense.
You aren’t a sinner in the larger sense;
That’s why you’re let off the fiery griddle
And go, like the rest, in the casting ladle.
I scanned in my own copy of the book cover, the Signet Classic edition from 1964, because I love the painting. The Amazon link points to an in-stock version of the same translation.