Vol. 44 No. 1 (1996)
Research Article

The Trouble with Ibsen's Names

Published 1996-03-01



Henrik Ibsen appears to have chosen or even invented many of his characters' names in order to signal to his audiences something about the characters. Although the meanings contained in the names are usually transparent to Scandinavian audiences, most remain opaque to English-speakers, who now constitute Ibsen's largest audience. The problem of how to deal with personal names, especially whether or not they should be translated, literally or metaphorically, is more general than Ibsen or Norwegian and extends to all literature translated from one language into another. Aspects of this problem are explored and several possible solutions are proposed.


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