Book Description: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is the founder of modern theater, and his plays are performed all over the world. Yet in spite of his unquestioned status as a classic of the stage, Ibsen is often dismissed as a boring old realist, whose plays are of interest only because they remain the gateway to modern theater. In Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism, Toril Moi makes a powerful case not just for Ibsen's modernity, but also for his modernism. Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism situates Ibsen in his cultural context, emphasizes his position as a Norwegian in European culture, and shows how important painting and other visual arts were for his aesthetic education. The book rewrites literary history, reminding modern readers that idealism was the dominant aesthetic paradigm of the nineteenth century. Modernism was born in the ruins of idealism, Moi argues, thus challenging traditional theories of the opposition between realism and modernism. By reading Ibsen's modernist plays as investigations of the fate of love in an age of skepticism, Moi shows why Ibsen still matters to us. In this book, Ibsen's plays are showed to be profoundly concerned by theater and theatricality, both on stage and in everyday life. Ibsen's unsettling explorations of women, men and marriage here emerge as chronicles of the tension between skepticism and the everyday, and between critique and utopia in modernity. This radical new account places Ibsen in his rightful place alongside Baudelaire, Flaubert and Manet as a founder of European modernism.