Huge Ibsen project only in Norwegian

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Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen remains one of the Norway’s best-known literary figures with a large export market for his works. A huge project that collects all his writings and commentaries on them, though, will only be published online in Norwegian.

Plans to translate the 16 paper volumes of Ibsen texts and 16 volumes of commentaries into English have also stranded, reports newspaper Aftenposten.

The project, called Henrik Ibsens skrifter, started up in 1997 and was supposed to cost NOK 35 million. It has been repeatedly delayed and the cost has risen to around NOK 100 million.

Now, Aftenposten reports, sales of the more than 30 volumes are slow because most researchers and Ibsen aficionados are waiting for the online version. While the books were finished this past week and celebrated by publisher Aschehoug, the online version won’t be ready until 2012 and it won’t be translated into English.

Asked whether it was strange that such a huge project involving Norway’s greatest literary hero would only be available to those who can read Norwegian, Ståle Dingstad of the Institute for Nordic and Linguistic Studies told Aftenposten that “folks outside Norway who work with Ibsen texts, researchers and students, can often understand Norwegian.”

He said some texts and commentaries will be translated for special groups like actors and directors. An earlier translation effort was never finished and ended in controversy.

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