Georg Kaiser


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Kaiser, Georg

(gā`ôrkh kī`zər), 1878–1945, German expressionist playwright. His early plays dealt with the erotic and the psychological. In maturity Kaiser turned to social themes, glorifying the ideal of sacrifice for the mass interest and attacking the brutality of the machine age. He fled Germany for Switzerland when the Nazis came to power. Among his many dramas are The Citizens of Calais (1914, tr. 1946), From Morn to Midnight (1916, tr. 1920), and the trilogy The Coral (1917, tr. 1929), Gas (1918, tr. 1924), and Gas II (1920).

Bibliography

See studies by R. Benson (1984) and P. Tyson (1984).

Kaiser, Georg

 

Born Nov. 25, 1878, in Magdeburg; died June 4, 1945, in Ascona, Switzerland. German dramatist. Well-known representative of German expressionism.

Kaiser’s protest against the bourgeois world bore an abstract, individualistic character. In 1911 he published The Jewish Widow, a comedy on a Biblical theme, and in 1914, the historical drama The Burghers of Calais. World War I (1914–18) and the revolutionary events of 1918 in Germany sharply intensified Kaiser’s critical attitude toward the capitalist system, as can be seen in the dramas Gas (parts I and II, 1918–20; Russian translation, 1922) and The Coral (1918; Russian translation, 1923). Along with the amusing adventure comedy Cinema Romance (Kolportage; 1924; Russian translation, 1925) and such mystical, romantic dramas as Twice Oliver (1926) and Two Neckties (1930), Kaiser wrote the antimilitarist plays Leather Heads (1928) and Mississippi (1930). After the Nazis came to power, Kaiser’s plays were banned. In 1938 he emigrated to the Netherlands, and then he moved to Switzerland. In 1940, while he was in Switzerland, Kaiser wrote the dramas Klawitter and The English Wireless, which portrayed the horrors of Nazi terror, and the antimilitarist play The Soldier Tanaka. The comedy Napoleon in New Orleans (1941), which is about an adventurer pretending to be the French emperor, makes fun of Hitler. Kaiser’s late antimilitarist dramas are based on ancient Greek myths. In 1948 the trilogy Twice Amphitryon, Pygmalion, and Bellerophon was published. Kaiser was also the author of the novels Its Enough (1932) and Villa Aurea (1940; translated into English as Vera).

WORKS

In Russian translation:
Dramy. [With an introduction by A. V. Lunacharskii.] Moscow-Petro-
grad, 1923.

REFERENCES

Paulsen, W. G. Kaiser. Tübingen, 1960.
Kändler, K. Drama und Klassenkampf. Berlin-Weimar, 1970.

V. N. TOKMAKOV