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One of the four profound plays of Ibsen’s late period (along with “The Master Builder,” “John Gabriel Borkman,” and “When We Dead Awaken”), “Little Eyolf” tells the story of Albert Allmers, a writer who has yearned to leave behind a literary or philosophical legacy of some kind, but who finally decides to invest that yearning in the life of his little handicapped son, Eyolf. Rita Allmers loves her husband so obsessively that she hates any rival for his affection, whether it be Allmer’s literary magnum opus, Little Eyolf himself, or Albert’s strangely devoted sister Asta. Little Eyolf’s tragic death, possibly orchestrated by the eldritch old Rat-Wife, brings about a psychological climax among the three adults, as they reveal to each other deep conflicts of love and hate, complex erotic desires, raw honesty about their emotional emptiness in the face of human tragedy, and the realization that all that really matters to any one of them is Life itself. The famous H. L. Mencken heads a team effort committed to the colloquial, lucid rendition of this alternative translation. ( Expatriate)
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