Carl Sternheim


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Sternheim, Carl

 

Born Apr. 1, 1878, in Leipzig; died Nov. 3, 1942, in Brussels. German writer and critic.

The son of a banker, Sternheim studied philosophy, literature, and psychology in Munich and Leipzig. He emigrated to Belgium before 1933; in the latter years of his life he withdrew from literature. In his early works, Sternheim polemized with the aesthetics of naturalism from a neoromantic point of view. He revealed the inner decay and degeneration of the bourgeoisie and the kaiser’s arrogant aristocracy in a cycle of satirical plays drawn “from the heroic life of a bourgeois.” These plays, which make use of elements of the grotesque, include The Trousers (1911), The Box (1912), Burgher Schippel (1913), The Snob (1914), 1913 (1915), and Tabula Rasa (1916). Sternheim’s perceptive characterization and sometimes shockingly expressive language gave his plays a formal similarity to the drama of expressionism. Sternheim also wrote novellas; publicist works, such as the collection of essays Berlin, or Juste Milieu (1920); works about art; and literary criticism.

WORKS

Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1–6. Berlin-Weimar, 1963–68.
Gedichte, Frühe Dramen. Berlin-Weimar, 1968.
In Russian translation:
Vanderbil’t. In Zapadnye sborniki, book 1. Moscow, 1923.

REFERENCES

Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1968.
Poliudov, V. A. “Spory o K. Shterngeime.” Uch. zap. Permskogo un-ta, 1967, no. 157.
Wendler, W. Carl Sternheim. Frankfurt am Main-Bonn, 1966.
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Steve Martin's adaptation of an older play by the German playwright Carl Sternheim centers on the comic madness that ensues after a woman's underpants fall down in public.
Steve Martin's farce "The Underpants," which skewers middle class conformity, is an adaptation of the 1910 German farce "Die Hose" by playwright Carl Sternheim.
In the play, which Martin adapted from the work by Carl Sternheim, the character of Theo is pretty much a swine, a penny-pinching, ego-conscious bureaucrat who is utterly oblivious to the needs of his sex-starved wife, Louise (played by Meredith Patterson).
The remaining sections of this chapter provide a description of the themes, plots, and characters that recur in the work of Expressionist dramatists, including Ernst Toller, Georg Kaiser, Carl Sternheim, Frank Wedekind, Walter Hasenclever, and Fritz von Unruh.
Production: "The Underpants" Author: Carl Sternheim (1909) Adapted by: Sid Feldman (world premiere adaptation) Runs: Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; now through December 21, 1999 Curtain: 8:00 p.
In 1910, though, just such a play by Carl Sternheim - ``Die Hose'' it was called - shocked Germany, where it was considered immoral and excessively satirical.