Carl Sternheim

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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.


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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Bassler implies that a much closer friendship may have existed, citing Rainer Rumold's Gottfried Benn und der Expressionismus (Konigstein/Ts.: Scriptor, 1982), but not the reserved judgements on Benn and Einstein in Brussels from Thea Sternheim's diaries, and articles by Rhys Williams ('Primitivismin the Works of Carl Einstein, Carl Sternheim and Gottfried Benn', Journal of European Studies, 13 (1983), 247-67) and Brian Keith-Smith in Gottfried Benn (Galway:Galway University Press, 1990), pp.
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In regard to history and politics, expressionism continued the satirical rejection of complacent bourgeois values begun by such writers as Carl Sternheim (1878 - 1943) and Wedekind.