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Was Stockmann's motto; and his creator's own determination to 'stand alone', reflected in his refusal to commit himself to any group or party ideology, exposed a side of his nature which was not just apolitical but actually anti-political. He expressly preached a form of anarchism on occasion. 'The state must go' he told the Danish critic, Georg Brandes, in 1871: That is the revolution I shall join in. Undermine the concept of the state, set up free choice and spiritual kinship as the one decisive factor for union, and that is the beginning of a liberty that is worth something.

In fact, apart from his own performance in the debates on Ibsen held at the Playgoers' Club in the early nineties, Shaw seems to have remembered only Eleanor's contributions as having any pertinence or bite. [28] This description rather distorts the proceedings at the Club, and fails to take account of the pronouncements of several other Ibsen enthusiasts in the debates. [29] He was a gifted linguist, who included a mastery of Norwegian among his accomplishments and may well have been responsible for first introducing Eleanor to Ibsen's work.

46] The moral implications of Ibsen's ideas - at least as spelt out by Shaw in Shaw in The Quintessence of Ibsenism and the Fabian Society lecture on which that book was based - gravely disturbed a number of other socialists. The most notable of these were Annie Besant and William Clarke, both of whom had contributed to the famous Fabian Essays in SociaUsm, published in 1889, but who had then quitted the Society in disenchantment, not long afterwards. Their apostasy was not necessarily or solely due to their disagreements with Shaw over Ibsenism, but they must have felt alienated by the sympathetic reception accorded his thesis by most of their colleagues.

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