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Today’s Impromptus is a Telemark Journal — Telemark being the famous county in Norway where heroic saboteurs upset the Nazi nuclear program. I visited the relevant site. I also visited Ibsen’s boyhood home, a place in the country just outside Skien. In my journal, I write, “The atmosphere is utterly peaceful. There are some tulips in bloom. I think, ‘I could write better, if I stayed here, in Ibsen’s place.’”

There is an addendum: “Well, maybe not.”

A friend e-mails me to say, “A couple of years ago, we were on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples. William Walton [the British composer] had a fabulous estate there. We also discovered a plaque on a house informing us that this was where Ibsen stayed, writing Peer Gynt.”

Interesting. I have now learned that Ibsen wrote all of that play while in Italy: in Rome, Ischia, and Sorrento. Yeah, those are pleasant places too — pretty much as good as Skien.



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