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LIBRARY

UNIVERSITY OP
CALIFORNIA

SAN DIEGO



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

T,OS ANGKT.KS

THE GERMAN DRAMA

OF THE

NINETEENTH CENTURY



BY
Dn. GEORG WITKOWSKI

Professor in the University of Leipzig



AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION
FROM THE SECOND GERMAN EDITION

BY

L. E. HORNING

Professor of Teutonic Philology,
University of Toronto (Victoria College)




NEW YORK

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

LONDON: GEORGE BELL AND SONS

1909



COPYRIGHT, 1909

BY
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY



Published. June, 1809.



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

Apart from some small formal changes, this edition
differs from the first in that, in deference to many ex-
pressed wishes, Romantic opera is treated in a special
chapter and that the new works of the dramatists who
had become known before 1900 are added as far as they
come into consideration from the earlier view-point. On
the other hand, the time has not yet come for a descrip-
tion of the whole development after the year 1900.

GEORG WITKOWSKI.
Leipzig, July 4, 1906.



PREFACE TO FIRST GERMAN
EDITION

This little book had its origin in University-extension
lectures given in Leipzig and Altenburg and is first of
all an attempt to pave the way for an understanding of
the drama of the present day from an historical stand-
point. Therefore the chief weight is laid upon those
historical factors which settle the last stages of develop-
ment, and the three factors of dramatic production, art-
view, actor's art and public, are considered side by side
in accordance with their importance. The musical
drama and the lesser varieties had also to be sketched
in their development if the picture was to correspond
to reality. True, the outward form and the brief con-
tents forced me just in these points to introduce merely
the essential changes of each variety from one period to
another and to illustrate them by some characteristic
productions. In other respects the work imposed ren-
dered it necessary to limit myself to the historically
important persons and works. But those names at least
should not be lacking for which the reader will look first
of all because they are reckoned with those which are
mentioned most often in histories of literature or of the
stage. That I have also mentioned some dramas which
appeared after the year 1900, in order to complete the
picture of the dramatists who up to that time had al-
ready become important, will not be felt as a violence
done to the limit given in the title.

Leipzig, January 3, 1904.



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE

Professor Witkowski's little book appealed to me
from the first as a very sane and suggestive introduc-
tion, and when my good fortune took me to Leipzig in
1906 we soon became good friends. The desire to see
the work turned into English was mutual and the pub-
lishers readily gave their consent.

In only one instance have I made any departure from
the text of the second German edition. In this case I
have made use of an expression from Prof. Witkowski's
last letter to me with the result that the passage seems
to me more definite and the meaning clearer.

The dates are those of the original and differ in a
few instances from those of other works. I have not the
means of settling these differences finally.

The figures in the repertoire lists might have been ex-
tended in the English edition to cover the years 1905-06
and 1906-07. But they would have made little differ-
ence in the conclusions drawn. They would have shown :
that Faust Part II is increasingly played, as one
might easily conclude from the fact that at least three
new stage-versions of Faust have appeared within the
last two years; that Laube, Gutzkow and Freytag seem
to be more popular; that Halm shows signs of revival;
that Schneider's little work suffered a temporary eclipse

vii



viii TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE

in 1904-05; that Benedix dies hard; that Hebbel and
Anzengruber are rapidly gaining in favor with the pub-
lic.

To my wife I am under a heavy debt for her close
criticisms, her helpful and suggestive advice.

L. E. HORNING.

University of Toronto (Victoria College),
April, 1909.



CONTENTS.

PAGE.

GERMAN DRAMA AT THE CLOSE OF THE EIGHT-
EENTH CENTURY:
Middle-class Drama; Iff land and Kotzebue; Schiller . 1

GERMAN DRAMA FROM 1800 TO 1830 8

ROMANTIC DRAMA 8

The Schlegels, Tieck, Brentano, C-hlenschlager, Platen,
Immermann.

FATE TRAGEDY 13

Werner, Milliner, Grillparzer, Heine.

HEINRICH VON RLEIST 15

IMITATORS OF SCHILLER 22

KSrner, Uhland.

FRANZ GBILLPARZEE 24

FERDINAND RAIMUND 34

PLAT AND COMEDY FROM 1800 TO 1830 36

Kotzebue's Followers; Birch-Pfeiffer; Dialect Plays.

CHRISTIAN DIETRICH GRABBE 38

ROMANTIC OPERA 41

Gluck, Mozart, Spohr, Lortzing; Weber, Marschner;
Meyerbeer and Grand Opera.

GERMAN DRAMA FROM 1830 TO 1885 45

YOUNG GERMANY AND ITS FOLLOWERS 45

Wienbarg; French Influence; Laube, Gutzkow, Brach-
vogel, Bauernfeld, Freytag.

MIDDLE-CLASS COMEDY AND THE FARCE 52

Benedix, Moser; Folk-plays; Miiller, L'Arronge; The
Farce, Kalisch; Dialect-plays, Niebergall.
ix



x CONTENTS

PAGE.

IDEALIZING DRAMA 56

Halm, Mosental, Mosen, Gottschall, von Weilen, Redwitz,
Geibel, Heyse, Jordan.

SUMMABT 62

FBIEDBICH HEBBEL 63

OTTO LUDWIG 94

THE SEVENTIES 102

Lindner, Wilbrandt, Fitger, Voss; Dumas; Lindau;
Plays of 1875.

LUDWIG ANZENGBUBER 108

THE MEININGEB 120

RICHARD WAGNEB 122

ERNST VON WILDENBRUCH 133

GERMAN DRAMA FROM 1885 TO 1900 137

THE OLD ART AND NATURALISM 137

French Influence, Zola; Isben, 140, Bjornson, Strind-
berg; Tolstoi.

THE " FREE THEATRES " 148

HERMANN SUDERMANN 152

PLAYWRIGHTS OF THE PRESENT DAY 161

Wichert, Fulda; Philippi, Otto Ernst, Blumenthal,

Schonthan.

LITERARY TENDENCIES IN PRESENT DAY DRAMA .... 168
Nietzsche, 169; Symbolism; New Romanticism.

DRAMATIC WRITERS OF TO-DAY 175

Weigand, Hirschfeld, Halbe, Hartleben ; D'Annunzio,
Dehmel, Dreyer, Bahr, Schnitzler, Wedekind; Maet-
erlink, 182; Lothar, Hoffmannsthal.
GERHART HAUPTMANN 187

PRODUCT OF THE CENTURY 203

Living Dramas, 206; Progress, Conditions, Outlook.

INDEX . . .219



THE GERMAN DRAMA

OF THE

NINETEENTH CENTURY



GERMAN DRAMA AT THE CLOSE OF
THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

AT the beginning of the nineteenth century middle-
class drama on the German stage far surpassed all other
varieties in numbers and popularity. Lessing had laid
the foundation for it and made it free from French in-
fluence. Miss Sara Sampson (1755), Minna von Barn-
helm (1767) and Emilia Galotti (1772) were the earl-
iest prototypes of a realistic art which took its sub-
jects from contemporaneous life and substituted deep
feeling in unadorned prose for the unnatural sentiment
of the Alexandrine tragedy. In his Hamburgische
Dramaturgic (1768-69) Lessing showed that the French
were wrong in asserting the conformity of their rules
with the laws of Aristotle, and pointed to Shakespeare
as the greatest tragic poet of modern times.

Contempt for rules, enthusiasm for Shakespeare and
a striving for a characteristic national art led to the
production, in the "Storm and Stress" period, of a suc-
cession of works which lent gifted expression to the
feelings and longings of the German youth. At the
head of this list was Goethe's first great work, Go'tz
von Berlichingen (1773). For the first time the past of
their own people lived before them in a genuine his-
torical drama, but it was too disconnected in form and
this prevented its becoming popular on the stage. The
numerous imitations, none of which approached the
Go'tz in poetic merit, succeeded in avoiding this fault

1



2 GERMAN DRAMA

and the clang of armor resounded on the German stage
far down into the nineteenth century.

The contemporaries of Goethe's youth, Lenz, Klinger
and Heinrich Leopold Wagner, did not satisfy the de-
mands of the stage any better than he had done. Ac-
cordingly a permanent influence was not exercised by
their dramas which, by their treatment of contempora-
neous social problems, enlarged the previously narrow
horizon of the middle-class drama. In Schiller's early
dramas, Die Rduber (1781) and Eabale und Liebe
(1784), these new motives were, for the first time, united
by the unerring judgment of a great and born dramat-
ist with what was suited to the stage and with a
complete mastery of realistic style. After completing
Don Carlos (1787) he turned to that idealistic style,
characterized by the external form of the verse, which
Lessing had already made use of in his dramatic poem
Nathan der Weise (1779). These two works exerted
at first just as little influence on succeeding works as
did Shakespeare's dramas, which the great actor, Fried-
rich Ludwig Schroder, had been playing in Germany
since 1776, or Goethe's new and lofty dramas, Iphigenie
auf Tauris (1787), Egmont (1788), Torquato Tasso
(1790). Like the fragment Faust, which appeared at
the same time as Tasso, they remained entirely unno-
ticed.

The operetta, for the most part the harmless repre-
sentation of slightly idealized rural situations, inter-
woven with simple melodious songs, had taken tri-
umphant possession of the German stage since 1766. It
reached its highest development in the operas of MOZART,
Belmont und Constanze (1782), and Die Zauber-
flo'te (1791). At this time middle-class drama re-



GERMAN DRAMA 3

ceived new life from the quickly passing "Storm and
Stress" influence. The subjects treated by this class of
writers were taken hold of but fashioned according to
the temper of timid middle-class ethics: the collisions
which led to the catastrophe in the former found a
happy solution in the latter. The middle-class saw its
own joys and sorrows mirrored in these plays and the
great mass of spectators were delighted and moved to
tears by the conscientious treatment of the conditions
and events of their daily life. What did it matter if
commonplace reality was presented without any claims
to artistic excellence, if Teutomania, moralizing, ef-
feminate sentimentality, one-sided glorification of the
middle classes at the expense of all others, and theatri-
cal convention robbed the portrait of truth and higher
merit? BAEON OTTO VON GEMMINGEN produced the
first example of this class in Der deutsche Hausvater
(1780) and AUGUST WILHELM IFFLAND, actor and man-
ager in Mannheim and Berlin, cultivated it with the
greatest success. His best works, Die Jdger (1781),
Die Hagestolzen (1791), Der Spieler (1796) held their
place long after the middle of the nineteenth century.
Iffland's plays were suited exactly to the taste of the
middle-class public. He excluded all great historical
events, all political questions and all references to public
affairs. The home alone was his world and this he de-
lineated with the care of a miniature painter. In all
his plays he shows persecuted virtue finally overcoming
vice and from need and poverty attaining to prosperity.
An easy comfortable life and the middle-class "Repu-
tation" are with him the most important matters; for
their sake ethical blemishes are tolerated wherever they
admit of being glossed over. With Iffland guilt is not



4 GERMAN DRAMA

an offence against universal order, a conflict of the
passions with divine and human laws, but merely the
crime which falls within the province of the police and
the reformatory. Iffland's plays offer actors many ac-
ceptable roles and their after-effect may be traced right
down to the present.

In respect to duration and strength of influence only
one writer can be compared to Iffiand, namely, his some-
what younger contemporary, AUGUSTUS KOTZEBUE.
But the same expedients w T hich Iffiand employed for an
honorable purpose are in Kotzebue degraded to the serv-
ice of speculation on lower impulses. In his works the
frivolous noble is contrasted with the worthy citizen,
the Germans are honorable, the foreigners rascals and
deceivers. He does not, how r ever, use these contrasts
from an honest patriotic conviction but merely to flatter
his hearers ; they are with him, like everything else, only
means to the sole end of external success. Thus his
great talent, in spite of the enormous production of over
two hundred dramatic works, brought no lasting good
to the German stage. Owing to the fact that he every-
where aimed at light superficial entertainment he be-
came for a long time the real ruler of the stage and
even in the Weimar theatre when conducted by Goethe
no author was played so often as Kotzebue. He tried
his hand at all varieties from lofty tragedy to vulgar
farce, with the greater success the lower his view-point,
and the more he aimed with coarse but sure art at the
momentary effect of pealing laughter or of cheap emo-
tion. His favorite characters are those which deviate
from the path of virtue: fallen women and girls whose
misfortune is deplored and represented as the conse-
quence of excusable human weakness; frivolous sedu-



GERMAN DRAMA 5

cers transfigured by the splendor of knightly charm ; im-
mature, naively lascivious girls, the forerunners of the
modern demi-vierges, and aging worldlings.

Menschenhass und Reue (1787) brought Kotzebue
his first and greatest success. It was for a long time
the favorite play of the entire German public and was
also received in London, Paris and Madrid with an ap-
plause such as only Goethe's Werther met with among
all German writings in foreign lands. A long succes-
sion of other very influential works followed, among
which possibly Die Unglticklichen (1798), Die beiden
Klingsberg (1801), Die deutschen Kleinstddter (1803)
and Pagenstreiche (1804) may be regarded as having
relatively the greatest merit, because in them Kotze-
bue 's talent for the comic of environment and his un-
erring command of all the devices of technique is best
shown.

All those who took German art seriously rightly saw
in him its most dangerous enemy. When Schiller, after
a long interruption, turned again to dramatic poetry
in Wallenstein (1800) he had to try and combat the
moral weakness of the time which manifested itself in
its favorite authors. He wished to unite proportion,
harmony, grandeur, intrinsic truth and beautiful form;
he substituted an inspired rhythmical, elevated language
for prose and for the ethical code of the period of en-
lightenment, an exalted idealism which was filled with
pride in its independence, won by mighty will-power,
of all the accidental conditions of existence. Schiller
now strove for an effect similar to the overpowering
force of Greek tragedy, and sought to unite the lofty
dignity of the ancients with the technique of Shake-
speare, the demand for moral freedom with the fatalism



6 GERMAN DRAMA

of classical authors. Each of his dramas from Wallen-
stcitn onwards represents an attempt to combine these
opposing conceptions of life and art: none is entirely
successful. The depths of the gulf which he wishes to
bridge over is most clearly recognisable in Wallen-
stein and in Die Braut von Messina (1803) but even
the two intermediate works, Maria Stuart (1801) and
Die Jung f ran von Orleans (1802), as well as his last
completed drama, Wilhelm Tell (1804), and the pow-
erful fragment Demetrius bear witness that the prob-
lem is not capable of solution. The lofty sentiment,
the tumultuous rhetorical movement, the accurate cal-
culation of effect, and above all the incomparable
dramatic instinct of the poet, do not easily allow
the disinterested spectator to become conscious of the
inherent faults in these great works. Schiller himself
clearly recognized them and, when death suddenly car-
ried him off, he was on the way to a realism which de-
rives the fate of man solely from his will and desires.
That it was no longer permitted him to give form to
this conception in new works, is the greatest misfortune
which has happened to German drama. As it was, his
last works had to rank for the host of imitators as ab-
solutely classical models and the conviction took root
that only in this form was dramatic poetry of lofty
style possible.

This error was strengthened and kept alive by the
fact that the following period did not produce a Ger-
man dramatist who, like Schiller, was capable of com-
bining the highest artistic purposes with noble conform-
ity to national character and of gaining in this way a last-
ing influence over the great masses. His greatest con-
temporary, Goethe, wrote the stage a farewell letter when



GERMAN DRAMA 7

he gave to his people the first part of Faust, which for
all that could not remain a stranger to the stage because
its wealth of original poetic power was too great. But
when working at the second part, to which he gave form
in extreme old age, Goethe had before his eyes a scene
of action which was not yet in existence. With un-
ceasing effort the German stage is grappling with this
work which one day must become its greatest possession.



GERMAN DRAMA FROM 1800-1830.

ROMANTIC DRAMA

THE predominant literary movement of the first three
decades of the nineteenth century was not favorable to
the creation of drama. The Romanticists did not give
to the stage a single work of lasting importance. The
great dramatic writers of this period, Kleist and Grill-
parzer, went each his own way, the former scarcely
heeded, the latter, after the great triumphs of his first
works, soon frightened away from the theatre by animos-
ity and lack of appreciation. The field of lofty tragedy
belonged to the imitators of Schiller ; in play and comedy
Iffland and Kotzebue remained the masters and models.
Only the dialect play and the romantic opera developed
new, independent growth.

Goethe and Schiller have their heroes come into con-
flict with the objective world-order and go under be-
cause they will not renounce their claims, which are
subjectively justifiable but objectively unjustifiable. On
the other hand the theory of the Romanticists is un-
limited subjectivity, their law of life and art is caprice
which acknowledges no power above itself. From this
follow definite consequences for the form and contents
of the creations. There is no definite, clearly recognized
goal, no strong clear-cut purpose out of which the action
necessarily grows, but instead we have moods, depend-
ence upon outward impressions, sensations, aimless wan-

8



derings in life and in the unbounded world of phantasy,
delight in what is novel, curious, mysterious or mystical.
There is a lack of clear modelling, a striving after pic-
turesque and musical effects, a preference for lyric
form, and especially for the prose romance, the loose
technique of which seems to give the freest play to ca-
price.

In this art there is no place for drama. The dramatic
works of the Romanticists contradict either their own
principles or the nature of the class. We are indebted
to them for only one great production, which has been
of the greatest service to the German stage and the
further evolution of our dramatic writings, viz: the
translation of the works of Shakespeare. True, Wie-
land had already turned most of them into German,
with gaps here and there, with many mistakes and with-
out penetrating into the spirit of the author and of his
times. It was only when AUGUST WILLIAM SCHLEGEL,
in 1797-1801, offered sixteen plays in a masterly version
that the greatest dramatist of all time was really won
for Germany. Schlegel himself translated afterwards
but one additional drama (Richard HI), the rest were
the work of Count Wolf Baudissin and Ludwig Tieck's
daughter Dorothea. In 1825-1833 this so-called Schlegel-
Tieck Shakespeare appeared and is, in spite of occasional
faults, the greatest monument since Luther 's Bible to the
skill of German translators.

For a time Calderon's plays also exercised a strong
influence upon the German drama. These were trans-
lated by Aug. W. Schlegel under the title, Spanisches
Theater. Through them the trochaic tetrameter became
popular for plays of romantic character and this form
of verse obtained long after the early enthusiasm for Cal-



10 GERMAN DRAMA

deron had died out. In his lectures on Dramatic Art and
Literature (1808) Schlegel laid the foundation of an
historical interpretation which placed modern art on an
equality with the classical, Shakespeare and Calderon
being the central figures. This widely known work has
become very important as a basis of historical judgment :
the main lines of its division are still authoritative to-
day. And yet August William Schlegel did not draw
them himself but took them over from his more original
brother, Friedrich. For these reasons the Schlegel
brothers really deserved well of the German stage in
spite of the fact that as independent authors they each
produced but one failure, the dramas Alarcos (1802)
and Ion (1803).

The single writer of the Elder Romantic school who
wrote numerous works in dramatic form was LUDWIG
TIECK, but he, too, was no dramatist. Schiller's judg-
ment concerning him gives the explanation: "His is a
very graceful, fanciful, gentle nature, he merely lacks
strength and depth and always will. " In Der gestiefelte
Kater (1797) the fairy-story serves only as an excuse for
ridiculing his opponents, Iffland, Kotzebue and the age of
Enlightenment. As he does not produce a drama, but
merely gives the description of the staging of a drama,
he disregards completely a compact dramatic form.
The same thing happens in another way in the Leben
und Tod der heiligen Genoveva (1799) and in Kaiser
Octavianus (1804). Both are large pictures glorifying
the Middle Ages and made up of lyric and epic parts.

Tieck studied the stage closely from his youth up
and as editor, translator and critic produced valuable
works such as his Altenglisches Theater (1811),
Deutsches Theater (1817) Shakespeares Vorschule



ROMANTIC DRAMA 11

(1823-29) and Kritische Schriften (1848). However
little he followed the laws of dramatic creation in his
own writings, he was thoroughly acquainted with them.
Germany has had few students of the drama with the
same sound judgment.

The gifted CLEMENS BEENTANO was directly inspired
by Tieck. His Gustav Wasa (1800) imitates to excess
Der gestiefelte Rater, his historical romantic drama,
Die Grundung Prags (1815), is just as lacking in form
and as insipid as the Genoveva. He appears more in-
dependent in the clever comedy, Ponce de Leon (1804),
though it, too, is unsuited to acting, and in the sprightly
vaudeville Die lustigen Musikanten (1803).

The other dramas in Romantic style by Wilhelm von
Schiitz, Achim von Arnim, Friedrich de la Motte-Fou-
que and Joseph von Eichendorff are equally unimpor-
tant for the stage.

Better success attended the Danish author, ADAM
GOTTLIEB OEHLENSCHLAGER, who followed the German
Romanticists most closely and spread their views in his
own country. He wrote in German and Danish. In
his fairy-drama, dedicated to Goethe, Aladdin oder die
Wunderlampe (1808), he was still noticeably influenced
by Tieck, in his highly successful Correggio (1816) he
wrote the tragedy, often retold afterwards, of the artist
who shipwrecks because a contemptible world does not
understand him.

The greatest master of form among his contemporar-
ies, ERNST AUGUST, GRAF VON PLATEN-HALLERMUNDE,
showed himself to be an artist in clash with existing real-
ity. His comedy, Der gldserne Panto ff el (1823), util-
izes the fairy-stories of Aschenbrodel and Dornroschen,
in the same way as Tieck had before used Der gestiefelte



12 GERMAN DRAMA

Kater, to sketch, by a mixture of forms in Romantic
fashion, a picture of society colored by ironic contrasts.
Then he turned his attention to comedy in the style of
Aristophanes. In this however, he did not, like his
classic model, treat the great questions of the time, but
only ridiculed, from the view-point of superior intelli-
gence and a high art-ideal, the phenomena of intellectual
life which did not appeal to him. Thus in Schatz
des Rhampsinit (1824) he scourged the Hegelian philos-
ophy, in Die verhdngnissvolle Gabel (1826) the Fate-
tragedy, in Der Romantische Odipus (1829) "the whole
mad company of poetasters, which improvises feverish
dreams upon the dulcimer and profanes our noble Ger-
man language." Especially in the addresses to the au-
dience, where the author interrupts the action and speaks
to the public himself, he pours out his contempt upon
everything which seems to him vulgar or contrary to
art. The lofty pathos of tragedy is here united effec-
tively with low, oftentimes very comical pictures and ex-
pressions. The figures, however, are not clear, but are
representatives of whole schools and only the brilliant


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