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TROPOLOGICAL TURNS IN PEER GYNT

TROPOLOGICAL TURNS IN PEER GYNT

Abstract

There are no straight lines, neither in things nor in language. —Gilles Deleuze 2 The B jg's advice to “gaa udenom” (108) [“go round and about” (49)] in Henrik Ibsen' s Peer Gynt from 1867 is most often interpreted figuratively, metaphorically, and symbolically. It would, so it seems, be absurd to believe that the B jg is as “real” as Peer himself, yet in a very obvious way they are equally virtual, both being characters in a fictional dramatic poem. Peer's encounter with the B jg replicates the more literal and oft-repeated physical gestures of turning aside, turning away and turning back that permeate the text. In addition to his actual physical movement, Peer repeatedly uses verbal strategies that echo them. I contend that these acts of turning mimic the structure of the text, which is also built up of turns. I am thus using the term “turn” in a physical, a rhetorical, an ethical, and a dramaturgical sense. In the analysis that follows I will work through the three types of turning that take place within the text itself as tools for explicating the ways in which Peer Gynt problematizes subject formation metapoetically. I will also argue
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