Frank Wedekind


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Frank Wedekind
Benjamin Franklin Wedekind
Birthday
BirthplaceHanover, German Confederation
Died
NationalityGerman
Occupation
playwright

Wedekind, Frank

(frängk vā`dəkĭnt), 1864–1918, German dramatist. He was also a journalist and publicist, and he worked on the staff of Simplicissimus. A forerunner of the expressionists, he employed grotesque fantasy and unconventional characters in order to attack the bourgeois ideals and hypocrisy of his society. Wedekind was particularly concerned with sexual themes, stressing the primacy of man's instincts. His plays include Frühlings Erwachen (1891, tr. The Awakening of Spring, 1909), Der Erdgeist (1895, tr. Earth Spirit, 1914), and Die Büchse der Pandora (1903, tr. Pandora's Box, 1918). Alban Berg compiled the libretto for his opera Lulu (1934) from the latter two.

Bibliography

See study by S. Gittleman (1969, repr. 1980).

Wedekind, Frank

 

Born July 24, 1864, in Hanover: died Mar. 9, 1918, in Munich. German writer.

By education Wedekind was a lawyer. In the 1890’s he satirized the German Empire under the reign of William II in verses that he published in Simplicissimus. In his play Spring’s Awakening (1891), the bourgeois figures are grotesques. The influence of F. Nietzsche became apparent in the play The Earth Spirit (1895) and its sequel Pandora’s Box (produced 1901, published 1904), as well as in the novella Mine-Haha (1903) and in the plays Hidalla (1904) and Wetterstein Castle (1910). In his best play, The Marquis of Keith (1901), Wedekind shows the capitalist world as overrun with crime. In the plays Samson (1914) and Heracles (1917) he portrays lonely humanists. In style and in mood Wedekind is a forerunner of expressionism.

WORKS

Gesammelte Werke, vols. 1-9. Munich, 1924.
Prosa. Dramen. Verse. Munich, 1954.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-8. [St. Petersburg] 1912-19.

REFERENCES

Golicher, A. Zhizn’ sovremennika. Mo scow-Leningrad, 1929.
Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1968. Chapter 35.
Mann, H. “Erinnerungen an F. Wedekind.” In his book Essays, vol. 1. Berlin, 1954.

I. V. VOLEVICH

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In the class I taught, students greatly benefited from and enjoyed this hybrid approach and such in-depth examination: in addition to established techniques of teaching literature such as staging in-class mini performances and engaging in varieties of character and plot analysis, students learned about the German school system (past and present), analyzed the text's political background based on videos and lectures, listened to contemporary music, and read excerpts from Goethe's Faust, from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, Freud's writings, and even Euripides' The Bacchae to place the author, Frank Wedekind, and the play's protagonists within the cultural everyday of late nineteenth-century Germany.