Gustav Pollak.

Franz Grillparzer and the Austrian drama online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryGustav PollakFranz Grillparzer and the Austrian drama → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



University of CalifoPxNia.

CSS #^


















PubliBhed November, 1907





Chapteb I. The Vienna Stage in the Days of

Metternich : Ferdinand Raimund . . . 1-14

Vienna society in the first decades of the nine-
teenth century. — The beginnings of Kaimund's
career. — His first fairy plays. — Kaimund's master-
pieces : "The Peasant as Millionaire," "The Mountain
King and the Misanthrope," and "The Spend-
thrift." — Raimund's personal traits. — His disappoint-
ments and his death.

Chapter II. The Peasant Drama in Austria:

LuDwiG Anzengruber 16-29

"Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld." — Its literary and
political significance. — Anzengruber's early years. —
His life as a strolling actor. — Peasant life as depicted
in his dramas and tales. — "The Perjured Country-
man," "The Cross Signers," "Village Rambles," and
"Der Sternsteinhof." — The troubled close of Anzen-
gruber's life.

Chapter III. Grillparzer^s Early Years . 30-49
A summary of public opinion concerning the
poet. — Former indifference of Germany toward Aus-
trians. — Preserved records of Grillparzer's life. — ^His
parentage. — The atmosphere of his childhood. — His
early interest in the theatre. — Student days at the
gymnasium and the university. — Patriotic stirrings. —
His first political poem. — A youthful drama : "Blanka
von Kastilien."— College friendships.— The first


pangs of love.— Study of music. — His father's ill-
health and death.— Years of poverty. — His experi-
ences as tutor.— Study of English. — Illness and neg-
lect. — An apprenticeship at the Imperial Library. —
Ways of Vienna officials. — The study of Spanish
literature. — The fate of his translation of Calderon.

Chapter IV. Die Ahnfkau 50-58

First meeting with the director of the Burg-
theater. — Schreyvogel's encouragement. — Grillparzer
enters the government service. — The circumstances
under which "Die Ahnfrau" was written. — The first
I)erformance and Grillparzer's feelings. — Pecuniary
results of his dramatic success. — ^Public opinion con-
cerning "Die Ahnfrau." — The plot of the play. — Its
subsequent fate.


Chapteb v. Sappho


Origin of the play. — Grillparzer's metho^
writing. — Synopsis of "Sappho." — The poet's fond-
ness for the play. — ^Lord Byron's admiration of
"Sappho." — German criticasters. — Modern criti-
cism. — Kesemblances between "Sappho" and "Tasso."

Chapter VI. Das Goldene Vliess . . . Y5-108
Grillparzer's growing fame. — His appointment as
dramatic writer to the Burgtheater. — A disagreeable
change in his official position. — Origin of "Das
goldene Vliess." — Death of his mother. — His sorrow
and dejection. — A journey to Italy. — Court favors in
Rome. — A meeting with Metternich. — Tribulations in
office after his return. — The emi)eror's displeasure
with one of his poems. — Grillparzer's manly de-
fence. — He resumes work on the trilogy. — The first


performance of "Das goldene Vliess" and its suc-
cess. — Synopsis of the trilogy. — The opinion of an
American student of Grillparzer. — A comparison be-
tween Corneille and Grillparzer.


Chapter YII. Konig Ottokaes Gltjck unju

Ende /-r 109-221 ^,

Grillparzer's account of the origin of the drai
Resemblances between Ottokar and Napoleon. — The
Frohlich sisters. — Katharina's charm. — Schubert as
guest at the house of the Frohlichs. — Grillparzer re-
signs his position at the Burgtheater. — His relations
with Count Stadion. — Disappearance of the manu-
script of "Ottokar." — Grillparzer's description of
Baron Gentz, Metternich's secretary. — Recovery of
the manuscript. — Stupidity of the censor's bureau. —
First performance of "Konig Ottokars Gliick und
Ende." — Synopsis of the play. — The experiences of
the author.

Chapter VIII. Grillparzer's Visit in Weimar 222-233

Literary celebrities of Dresden and Berlin. — Grill-
parzer's impressions of Rahel. — Contrast between
Berlin and Vienna. — First evening at Goethe's home.
— ^A visit to Schiller's house. — A dinner with
Goethe. — Goethe's i)ersonal appearance and de-
meanor. — Grillparzer's reasons for not revisiting
Goethe. — A meeting with the grand duke. — Goethe's
impressions of Grillparzer.

Chapter IX. 'Em Treuer Diener seines Herrn 234-248

Grillparzer is asked to write a play for the corona-
tion of the empress. — The story of Bankban in liter-
ature. — A curious interview with the president of the
police. — Synopsis of the play. — Critical objections to


the spirit of "Ein treuer Diener seines Herrn."— j

Grillparzer's definition of his ideal of duty. — The in- I

fluence of Lope de Vega on "Ein treuer Diener seines 1

Herrn.'^ — The reception of the play. — Grillparzer's ^

dissatisfaction with his work. — His mental depres- |

sion. i

Chapter X. Official PERSECUTioisr . . . 249-252

Attitude of the new minister of finance toward the \
poet. — Grillparzer as a member of a society of literary \
men and artists. — His arrest by the police. — The fate ]
of his poem in honor of the crown prince. — ^Wilful i
misrepresentation of Grillparzer's motives. — An audi-
ence with the emperor. )

Chapter XI. Des Meeres und der Liebe >V ^

Wellen 253-275

Grillparzer returns to classic themes. — First per- j

formance of "Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen." — |

Synopsis of the play. — Resemblances between Grill- i

parzer and Racine.— A personal experience utilized J

in the drama. — Other autobiographic touches. |



Chapter XII. Grillparzer and His Friends 2Y6-283 l

Disappointments of his official career. — His ap- |

plication for the place of Director of Archives. — His I
work in the new position. — Practical severance of his
relations with the Burgtheater. — Katharina Frohlich

no longer Grillparzer's fiancee. — His explanation of t
the rupture. — Katharina's character. — Grillparzer's

poem describing their mutual affection and antago- j

nism. — The circle of his literary friends. — Eduard von 1

Bauernfeld. — Heinrich Laube's description of a liter- 1

ary gathering at the "Star." — Grillparzer's personal ]

appearance.— A happy period in Grillparzer's life. i



Chaptee XIII. Dee Teaum Em Lebeit . . 284-286
Complete success of the play.— The origin of the
drama. — Voltaire's story as a groundwork. — Synopsis
of "Der Traum ein Leben." — The poet's misgivings
as to its plot.

Chaptee XIV. Teavels ii^ Feance and Eng-
land 287-290

Grillparzer's attitude toward critics. — ^A journal-
istic encounter with M. G. Saphir. — Literary condi-
tions in Austria under the Emperor Ferdinand. — A
journey to Paris. — First impressions. — Acquaintance
with Dumas and Meyerbeer. — A visit at Heine's
lodgings. — An evening with Heine at the house of
Rothschild. — Rossini as a guest. — Parliamentary im-
pressions in London. — Contrast between the judicial
methods of France and England. — A meeting with
Uhland in Stuttgart. — Distressing news from

Chaptee XV. Weh Dem^ dee Lugt . . ( . 291-319

A tragic family incident. — Grillparzer's choice o? a
new dramatic subject. — The poet's humorous and
satirical vein. — His epigrams. — Synopsis of "Weh
dem, der liigt." — Failure of the comedy. — Attitude of
the public and the critics. — Grillparzer's mortifica-
tion and resentment. — His resolve to abandon writing
for the stage. — Years of literary seclusion. — Ger-
many's neglect of his plays. — The poet turns to
music. — Poems addressed to famous artists. — Con-
tinued work on dramas. — Performance of the first
act of "Libussa." — A journey to Greece. — Grillpar-
zer's Oriental diary. — Unpleasant experiences in
Greece. — The Countess Hahn-Hahn on Grillparzer. —


Vienna's growing appreciation of the poet. — Grill-
parzer applies for the position of chief librarian of
the imperial library. — Appointment of "Friedrich
Halm." — Grillparzer's deep mortification. — Public
opinion on the government's action. — Grillparzer's
participation in public affairs.

Chapter XVI. Gkillparzer ai^d the Eevoltj-

TiON OF 1848 320-332

His reminiscences of the revolution. — The political
condition of Austria preceding the outbreak. — The
old regime under Emperor Francis. — His treatment
of Hungary. — Metternich's policy. — Police laws in
theory and practice. — Count Sedlnitzky, the president
of the police. — The position of literary men in the
empire. — The founding of the Academy of Sciences.
— Grillparzer's proposal to keep out poets. — The
bloody insurrection in Galicia a reason for the estab-
lishment of the Academy. — Grillparzer a witness of
the opening scenes of the revolution. — The dismissal
of Metternich. — Behavior of the people. — Why Grill-
parzer remained passive. — A warning poem and its
reception. — Grillparzer as a political observer. — His
estimate of Metternich in prose and verse. — Grill-
parzer's political arraignment of Germany. — His ad-
miration of her intellectual traits. — Professor Volkelt's
explanation of the mutual misunderstandings be-
tween the poet and his German critics. — The sensa-
tion caused by Grillparzer's poem to Fieldmarshal
Radetzky. — Grillparzer is honored by the army and
the court. — Public opinion concerning the poem. —
Grillparzer's indifference to praise and censure. — He
takes up his abode with the Frohlichs. — His story
"Dep arme Spielmann." — "Das Kloster bei Sendo-


Chapteb XVII. Esther 333-350

Laube's success in reviving Grillparzer's fame. —
Enthusiasm aroused by the performance of his plays.
—The reception of "Esther."— The plaudits of Ger-
many. — Synopsis of "Esther." — Conjectures as to
Grillparzer's reasons for leaving the play unfin-
ished. — The poet's retirement from government
service. — Festivities in his honor. — His indifference
to public demonstrations. — Francis Joseph calls
Grillparzer to the Austrian House of Peers. — Con-
scientious discharge of his duties. — Dramatic scene
on the occasion of his voting for the abolition of the
Concordat. — The celebration of his eightieth birth-
day. — Grillparzer's modesty. — His declining years. —
Devotion of the Frohlich sisters. — A scene in his
home. — Description of the Frohlichs. — Their ideal-
ism and artistic nature. — Grillparzer's death. —
Katharina Frohlich his sole heir. — Her endowment of
the Grillparzer Fund.

Chapter XVIII. Libussa 351-360

Origin and sources of the play. — ^Its reception by
the public. — A critic's impression. — Synopsis of
"Libussa." — Its depth of thought. — Passages concern-
ing social and philosophic problems. — Contrast be-
tween the ideals of Rousseau and the demands of

Chapter XIX. Die Judin von Toledo . . 361-378
Adaptation of a play by Lope de Vega.— Contrast-
ing characters. — Synopsis of "Die Jiidin von
Toledo." — Strange termination of the play.

Chapter XX. Ein Bbuderzwist in Habsburg 379-400
Significance of the play. — Conditions under which
it was written, — Synopsis of "Ein Bruderzwist in


Habsburg."— Grillparzer's knowledge of the Haps-
burg dynasty. — Eesemblances between Grillparzer's
drama and Schiller's "Wallenstein."

Chapter XXI. Geillpaezer^s Miscellaneous I

Writings 401-417 ]

His lyric productions. — Pathos of "Der Bann" and 1
"Tristia Ex Ponto."— "The Kuins of Campo Vac-

cino." — Prose essays and aphorisms. — His study of \

the Greek dramatists. — Notes on Spanish play- -
Wrights. — His admiration for Lope de Vega and

Calderon. — Grillparzer on Shakespeare. — His analy- ;
sis of "Macbeth." — A criticism of "Komeo and
Juliet." — Grillparzer's study of other English

writers. — His opinion of Swift. — Grillparzer's ad- s

miration of Racine. — His characterization of Moliere. j

— An analysis of Rousseau's character. — Notes on j

other French writers^ — Grillparzer's interest in t

Italian literature. — His admiration of the age of }

the Medici. — Grillparzer's thoughts on philosophical |

subjects. — His relations with Hegel. — A meeting 1

with the philosopher. — Grillparzer's summary of i

Hegel's teachings. — His protest against the methods i

of literary historians. — Grillparzer's ridicule of ]

"Teutomania." — His intellectual independence. — ^His , \

criticism of Goethe's "Elective Affinities." — Com- ]

parison between Schiller and Goethe. — Grillparzer's I

studies of his own works. — His condemnation of "Ein |

Bniderzwist" and "Libussa." !


Chapter XXII. Grillparzer and Beethoven 418-432 '

Grillparzer's love of music. — Eduard Hanslick's ^

opinion of Grillparzer's thoughts on musical sub- j

jects. — The poet's admiration of Mozart. — Grillparzer



and Schubert. — His epitaph on the composer. — Grill- i

parzer's "Eecollections of Beethoven." — His first j

glimpse of the composer. — Beethoven as a neighbor J

in the country. — The composer's sentimental attach- 1

ment for a peasant beauty. — ^Beethoven asks Grill- j

parzer for a libretto. — A visit at Beethoven's rooms. — ;

The composer's objections to some of Grillparzer's ?

lines. — A visit at Beethoven's country lodgings. — An ■

amusing illustration of his ignorance of the ways of ^

the world. — Grillparzer's funeral address at the grave *

of Beethoven. — The poet's estimate of the com- ]

poser. — Records of Grillparzer's conversations with \
Beethoven. — Grillparzer's analysis of the composer's

art. — The poet's attitude toward Italian and German i

opera. — His opinion of Rossini. — Grillparzer's criti- j

cism concerning the proper functions of poetry and |

music. — The influence of music on his plays. — His ;

methods of studying music and counterpoint. — ]

Hanslick's opinion of Grillparzer's musical produe- ^

tions. J


Chapter XXIII. Coi^clusioit .... 433-440 ]


Grillparzer's personal charm. — A description of his i

appearance in 1817 by Caroline Pichler. — Grillparzer ]

and his female admirers. — Charlotte von Paumgar- ]

ten, Marie Daffinger, and Marie von Piquot. — The I

poet's lack of literary decision. — His unfinished pro- j
jects. — His remarkable precocity. — Diversity of
critical opinion as to Grillparzer's greatest work. —

Qualities common to all his plays. — His originality. — \

Grillparzer's own claim as to his rank in literature. l


Grillparzer in old age Frontispiece

Ferdinand Raimund Facing

page 8

The Anzengruber Monument at Vienna "


Sappho "



" 76

Konig Ottokars Gliick und Ende "

" 110

Grillparzer at the age of thirty-two "

" 226

The Grillparzer monument in the

Vienna Volksgarten "

" 348


The present volume owes its inception to two lectures
on "Austrian Dramatists" delivered by the writer at the
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in April, 1905.
He has had reason to think that the subject might prove
interesting to a more general audience, hence the lecture
on Grillparzer has been expanded into the dimensions of
a book, half biography, half translation, which he hopes
may serve as an introduction to the study of the poet's
works. How well Grillparzer deserves and repays close
study, it has been the endeavor of the writer to show. He
claims for his volume no higher merit than that of being,
strange to say, the first attempt to acquaint American and
English readers with the dramatist and the man. The
translations are, as far as he is aware, the first English
renderings, "Sappho" alone excepted, of any of the
beauties of the original. The measure of space assigned
to the various extracts from Grillparzer's plays is not
intended to convey the writer's estimate of their respec-
tive merits. It has, however, seemed to him proper
to select at least one of the plays for somewhat extended
treatment. The play thus chosen, "Konig Ottokar's
Gllick und Ende," one of the most characteristic of the
so-called Hapsburg dramas of the author, will, it is hoped,
afford the reader a more accurate insight into Grill-
parzer's dramatic methods than would have been possible
by more uniform quotations from each play.


In accordance with the plan of the book, Grillparzer
has been largely allowed to speak for himself, both in
poetry and prose. The story of his life, as far as he has
told it, possesses an interest which neither summary nor
comment could claim, and his own hand depicts as could
no other some of the social and political conditions of a
bygone age.

The writer has availed himself of the works of such
authoritative German biographers and critics of the
poet as Prof. August Sauer, the editor of Grillparzer's
collected works. Prof. Emil Keich ("Grillparzers
Dramen"), Prof. Johannes Volkelt (/Tranz Grillparzer
als Dichter des Tragischen"), Adalbert Faulhammer
("Pranz Grillparzer: Eine biographische Studie"), Hein-
rich Laube ("Pranz Grillparzers Lebensgeschichte"),
Wilhelm Scherer ("Pranz Grillparzer: Beitrage zu
seinem Yerstandnisse''), O. E. Lessing ("Grillparzer und
das neue Drama"), as well as of Prof. Auguste Ehrhard's
admirable Prench biography: "Le Theatre en Autriche:
Pranz Grillparzer."

It is the writer's hope that his volume may make clear
to an English-speaking audience not only the potency of
Grillparzer's own genius, but also the peculiar fascina-
tion inherent in the work of two other authors who have
shed lustre on their Austrian fatherland. Indeed, not a
few of the countrymen of Mozart and Schubert whose
writings have won fame throughout German-speaking
countries charm because of their distinctive national
flavor. German in speech and training, they are yet Aus-
trian to the core. One writer of this kind, the poet
and novelist Kosegger, has captivated the whole world.



"Among German authors now living," says a recent
reviewer in the ]!^ew York Nation, "there is no man who,
for simple, wholesome humanity, can compare with the
Austrian, whose name is not only a household word
in the humblest homes of his native Steiermark, but whose
works are read throughout the world." The qualities
which Rosegger possesses in so eminent a degree, the sim-
plicity, strength, humor and wisdom of his artless art, are
characteristic of other writers of kindred power sprung
from the same soil.

Among such writers — true poets whether in prose or
verse — two dramatists in particular, unknown to the Eng-
lish-speaking world, have touched the German heart with
all the magic power of genius — the one, Ferdinand
Raimund, contemporaneous with Grillparzer, a writer of
fairy plays ; the other, Ludwig Anzengruber, Grillparzer' s
immediate successor, a creator of peasant dramas. A
brief survey of what these men were and what they wrote
will not be deemed out of place in a description of the
most striking general characteristics of the Austrian
drama. We shall more fully appreciate the peculiar
significance of Franz Grillparzer after glancing at the
work of the two dramatists who, within their modest
spheres, reveal as clearly as he the native genius of
Austrian poetry.



The literary historians of Germany have always drawn
a sharp theoretical distinction between "classic" writers
and mere "Volksdichter." What is a "Yolksdichter" ?
The very word baffles the translator. Literally, it means
a "poet of the people," or a "natural" poet, as we
sometimes say in English. But if the classic poet
be not, first of all, a "natural" or heaven-born one, he
is not a poet in any sense. Burns was a "natural" poet,
if ever there was one, yet he has become an English
classic of the purest water — ^nay, one of the master spirits
of Goethe's "world literature," a realm whose every citizen
is a king. Ber anger, whose songs have rejoiced genera-
tions of French peasants unable to read a line of them,
is one of the glories of French literature, though only
a Volksdichter in the German sense of the word. Tasso's
melodious stanzas are still re-echoed by Venetian gon-
doliers, in spite of his unquestioned classicalness. An-
dersen's blending of the ideal and real in his Fairy
Stories, his inimitable humor and moving pathos, have
made him at once the Volksdichter of his country and


one of the world's classics. The Hungarians sing Petofi's
songs, glowing with national and human passions, and
adore him; whether as Volksdichter or as classic they do
not stop to consider. And in very truth, the Germans
themselves refuse to be guided by the arbitrary distinctions
of their literary critics, and have made of the Lieder and
ballads of their greatest poets — of Goethe, Schiller,
Uhland and Heine — people's songs in the truest sense,
while conferring upon more than one unpretending Volks-
dichter an immortality withheld from many a classic of
a bygone generation. Even the German encyclopaedias
admit that some Austrian Volksdichter may have more
than local significance. Brockhaus says of Ferdinand
Raimund: "He succeeds in depicting the most touch-
ing as well as the gayest scenes. His fancy grasps what
is dramatically effective at the same time that his eye
penetrates the depths of the human heart. He is, within
the sphere of the Volksdichter, a genuine poet of rich
and varied art." And the writer in Meyer's "Kon-
versations-Lexikon" acknowledges the "weight and power"
(Wucht des Inhaltes) of Anzengruber's dramas, in which
we find "the extreme limit of passion, called forth, for
the most part, by moral and religious conflicts."

Ferdinand Raimund was born in Vienna in 1Y90 and
died near there in 1836. He received very little education,
and was apprenticed to a confectioner, but took to the stage.
After unsuccessful attempts in tragic roles, he became, in
spite of a natural leaning toward melancholy, a comedian
of extraordinary versatility. His fame is mostly identified
with the Vienna Leopoldstadter Theater, which, in the
early decades of the last century, enjoyed an uncontested


supremacy among the minor theatres of Germany. In the
opinion of the literary historian, Prof. Karl Goedeke, of
Gottingen, it was the hest popular stage Germany ever
possessed. The fame of the theatre was greatest during
that period in the history of Vienna and Austria which
came to a close in March, 1848 — the era of Francis
and his successor, Ferdinand, when Prince Metternich's
deadening absolutism lay heavily upon the land. The far-
famed Vienna "Gemiithlichkeit," vainly seeking an outlet
for serious political thought and patriotic endeavor, found
refuge in the distractions of the stage. There, at least,'
veiled allusions to existing conditions might be smuggled,
undetected by the censor's eye, into harmless farces, blood-
curdling plays of mediaeval slaughter and avenging ghosts,
or fantastic fairy dramas of the flimsiest construction.
"Vienna," in the language of Goedeke, "was then the
home of innocent pleasantry and banter, but it had no
place for biting sarcasm or brilliant irony and satire.
There were present all the elements for light come-
dies suited to the comprehension of all, and these simple
wants were easily supplied. There was no demand for
skilful intrigue, for a well-rounded plot carefully executed
in accordance with dramatic art ; sufficient if a few scenes
of Vienna life were represented, or if some occurrences
in the wide world beyond were brought into contrast with
things Viennese. And all was well if the play enforced
the moral that, while the outside world might be ever so
beautiful and enjoyable, Vienna was after all still more
so, and that in any case there was no place like it under

Raimund, who excelled as an actor in comic plays of

Online LibraryGustav PollakFranz Grillparzer and the Austrian drama → online text (page 1 of 27)