Frank Wedekind

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Frank Wedekind
Benjamin Franklin Wedekind
BirthplaceHanover, German Confederation

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.


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

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Lou knew and enchanted three of Mann's greatest artistic and intellectual heroes--Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud--and also head-hunted many of the leading writers of her time: Leo Tolstoy (whom she visited in Russia), August Strindberg, Knut Hamsun, Gerhart Hauptmann, Arthur Schnitzler, the predatory Frank Wedekind, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, her longtime lover Rainer Maria Rilke and the theologian Martin Buber.
Written by Frank Wedekind, a German dramatist, between autumn of 1890 and spring of 1891, Spring Awakening opened across the pond to controversy.