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v2.1 Reference

Selected Plays of Marcus Thrane

Translated by Terje I. Leiren
One of the earliest ethnic theaters in America was the Norwegian Theater of Marcus Thrane, established in Chicago in September 1866. Many of the plays presented by the theater were written by Thrane, a radical newspaper editor and freethinker, and are among the most significant Norwegian American literature produced in America at the time. This book includes six translated plays written by Thrane between 1866 and 1884, and covers the entire period of his active professional life in America.

Marcus Thrane (1817–1890) was a prophet of social democracy in Norway. For his activities as a labor leader and agitator, he was sentenced to four years in prison. After his release, Thrane took his causes to America and quickly emerged as a critic of the government, the economic order, social structures, and what he perceived to be the narrowness of Norwegian American life. As a writer, speaker, and editor, he was a keen observer and critic of both the larger American society and the smaller ethnic community to which he belonged.

Among a number of more or less successful ventures in the United States, Thrane wrote and produced a number of plays for Norwegian-speaking audiences. The plays are of modest literary quality, but as entertainment and dramatically presented argument they tell us much about the author and his audiences. They continue to invite reading and may yet evoke a smile, agreement, or an argument from contemporary readers.

About the Author

Terje I. Leiren is Sverre Arestad Endowed Professor in Norwegian Studies and chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington.


"The translations of these mostly light-hearted plays flow well and are supplemented with linguistic and cultural commentary in notes. Dramaturges, folklorists, and immigration historians may find material of interest in this volume, and the general public will also find it accessible."—Ingril Urberg, Scandinavian-Canadian Studies, Vol. 20 (2011)

"Selected Plays of Marcus Thrane presents Leiren's lucid translations of six of Thrane's most representative dramatic works, as well as an informative introduction in which Leiren gives a biographical sketch of Thrane and an overview of his engagement with the theater before and after immigrating to the United States. This much-needed volume will be of particular value to scholars and students of emigrant and ethnic theater, Norwegian-American literature, and Scandinavian drama."—Scandinavian Studies

University of Washington Press
New Directions in Scandinavian Studies

9780295987989 : selected-plays-of-marcus-thrane-leiren
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