Translated from the Norwegian and with an introduction by Joe Martin. Novelist and essayist Jens Bjorneboe turned to playwriting during the 1960's, as a genre in which he might "stage his literary assault on hierarchical society with an aggressive, extroverted form of theater" (from the Introduction). This play had its world premiere in Oslo in 1969, and recounts the tragic history of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, the founder of modern antiseptic techniques, whose biography illustrates "the pitfalls and even horrors of the man or woman of science who is naively in search of truth and improvement in the human condition, in a society who is naively in search of truth and improvement in the human condition, in a society that reveres prestige and power and its own received belief systems to the exclusion of any new 'truths'" (from the Introduction). Brechtian in style and somewhat anarchic in its politics, "Semmelweis" provides a biting critique of obtuse authority.
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