It's Christmas. A tree is being brought home, presents are being wrapped, and there are Christmas parties to go to.

Someone's lost their job, and is desperate to get it back. Desperate enough to blackmail.

Debt hangs in the air, weighing heavily: Over-shopping, and costs incurred from healthcare issues. Crushing debt that threatens to tear a family apart.

But it's Norway in 1879, not the United States in 2009.

How has A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen never struck me as being so current, so timely? Maybe I've never read it near Christmas before, because I don't think I even remembered it was a Christmas play. I thought the recent Mabou Mines production would overwhelm my reading, but it never came to mind. Instead I thought of this Christmas, Christmas in the midst of The Great Recession.

For every classic I read that makes me feel it's time has passed, there is another like this that reminds me there is art which transcends time and taps into a deep current that makes it relevant again and again.

(Much thanks to Eric Samuelsen for letting me read his unpublished, but should-be-published translation.)


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