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Catalog Archive / Fall 2020

Laughter and Civility
The Theater of Emma Gad

“This book is truly a gem. Wilkinson’s research is entirely original—this is a pioneering study that skillfully and methodically maps out Emma Gad’s entire dramatic production. Gad deserves a readership for her entertaining plays and Wilkinson’s study successfully brings the relevance of her work into focus.”
—Marianne Stecher, University of Washington

Emma Gad (1852–1921) was a prolific Danish playwright at the turn of the twentieth century. With sparkling prose and witty dialogue, Gad’s ambitious and sophisticated theatrical productions raised important and still pressing questions about sexuality and morality—including the status of women in marriage, divorce, same‐sex desire, and marital infidelity. Through her plays she engaged with contemporaries like Henrik Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw, yet she is primarily remembered for her etiquette book, Takt og Tone.

Laughter and Civility, the first biographical and scholarly volume to examine and contextualize her dramas, deeply explores how and why influential women are so often excluded from the canon. Lynn R. Wilkinson provides insightful readings into all twenty-five of Gad’s plays, and demonstrates how writers and intellectuals of the time, including Georg and Edvard Brandes, took her critically acclaimed work seriously. This volume rightfully reinstates Emma Gad’s work into the repertory of European drama and is crucial for scholars interested in turn‐of‐the‐century Scandinavian drama, literature, culture, and politics.


Lynn R. Wilkinson is an associate professor of Germanic studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Anne Charlotte Leffler and Modernist Drama: True Women and New Women on the Fin-de-Siècle Scandinavian Stage and The Dream of an Absolute Language: Emanuel Swedenborg and French Literary Culture.




“Wilkinson succeeds in bringing Emma Gad from the shadows of literary history into the spotlight. A contemporary of Ibsen, Shaw, and Wilde, Gad was a highly successful playwright and cultural mediator in the Copenhagen of Edvard and Georg Brandes. This book will be useful to anyone interested in European intellectual history and the history of theater.”
—Susan C. Brantly, University of Wisconsin–Madison



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Of Related Interest


A Dramatic Bagatelle
Emma GadTranslated by Lynn R. Wilkinson

Laughter and Civility: Cover showing three scenes dividing the page horizontally. The first, at the top, is difficult to make out because of how thin it is, and the photograph is tinted pink. The second, which takes up most of the page, is a photograph of a street filled with people riding bicycles and horse drawn carriages. This photo is tinted blue. The third photograph is tinted green and contains four people acting on a stage. The title text is proclaimed in contrasting white font on top of the blue photo.

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November 2020
328 pp. 6 x 9
8 b/w illus.

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Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299329303
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