Excerpt from The League of Youth, And, Pillars of Society
The estrangement from Bjornson had begun some time before the play appeared. A certain misunderstanding had followed the appearance of Peer Gynt,1 and had been deepened by political differences. Bjornson had become an ardent National Liberal, with leanings towards Re publicanism; Ibsen was not at all a Republican (he deeply offended Bjo'rnson by accepting orders and decora tions), and his political sympathies, while not of a parti san nature, were mainly Scandinavian - that is to say, directed towards a closer union of the three Scandinavian kingdoms. Distance, and the evil offices of gossiping friends, played their part in begetting dissension. Ih sen's last friendly letter to Bjornson (of these years) was written in the last days of 1867; in the first days of 1869, while he was actually busied with The League of Youth, we find him declining to contribute to a Danish magazine for the reason (among others) that Bjornson was to be one of its joint editors.
The news of the stormy reception of his comedy reached Ibsen in Egypt, where, as the guest of the Khedive, he was attending the opening of the Suez Canal. He has re corded the incident in a poem, At Port Said. On his re turn to Dresden he wrote to Hegel (december 14, 1869) The reception of The League of Youth pleases me very much; for the disapprobation I was prepared, and it would have been a disappointment to me if there had been none. But what I was not prepared for was that Bjornson should feel himself attacked by the play, as ru mour says he does. Is this really the case? He must surely see that it is not himself I have had in mind, but.
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