Sternheim, Carl(kärl shtĕrn`hīm), 1878–1943, German dramatist. In his successful comedy Die Hose (1911, tr. A Pair of Drawers, 1927) and in his later works he satirized as corrupt the manners, morals, and beliefs of bourgeois society. Other works include the plays Bürger Schippel (1913) and Die Marquise von Arcis (1919, tr. The Mask of Virtue, 1935); the novel Fairfax (1921, tr. 1923), which satirized American life; and stories and critical essays. Sternheim's work had an influence on German expressionism. In the Nazi era he lived in Switzerland.
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.
WORKSGesammelte 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.
REFERENCESIstoriia 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.