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By Ian Donaldson (eds.)

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22 Trunsf01"rrutions in Mode1"n EU1"opean Drulru IV Shaw was respectful of Eleanor's services to Ibsen, not just in her capacity as a translator but also as an active polemicist on the dramatist's behalf. In fact, apart from his own performance in the debates on Ibsen held at the Playgoers' Club in the early nineties, Shaw seems to have remembered only Eleanor's contributions as having any pertinence or bite. [28] This description rather distorts the proceedings at the Club, and fails to take account of the pronouncements of several other Ibsen enthusiasts in the debates.

We have seen how, in The Woman Question, written in conjunction with her husband, she had stressed the importance of enjoying the full resources of the 'community' in establishing the best material basis for sound relationships in the home, and had alluded to the futility of the 'isolated man fighting for his own hand'. This had come as a rider to a quotation, made half-approvingly, from one of Ibsen's most conservative and unprepossessing characters; it could also be seen as an implicit criticism of one of Ibsen's heroes, Dr Stockmann in An Enemy of the PeopLe.

It both reflected and portended a relationship that was at least as oppressive as her marital bonds, and which was also a source of real dread, for all its promises of fulfilling her deepest romantic yearnings. There is certainly a double edge to her final decision: what looks like a victory for rationality could also be interpreted as a victory for safe conventionality. But it is more than anything a victory for freedom of will, which she could not have won or, rather, not have sustained, if she had gone off with the sailor.

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