Hauptmann, Gerhart (Johann Robert)

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HAUPTMANN, Gerhart (Johann Robert)

Nationality: German. Born: Ober-Salzbrunn, 15 November 1862. Education: A school in Breslau; studied sculpture at Royal College of Art, Breslau, 1880-82; also studied at University of Jena, 1882-83. Family: Married 1) Marie Thienemann in 1884 (divorced), three sons; 2) Margarete Marschalk in 1905, one son. Career: Sculptor in Rome, 1883-84; worked as actor in Berlin before becoming a full-time writer; co-founder of the literary group Durch.Awards: Grillparzer prize, 1896, 1899, 1905; Goethebünde Schiller prize, 1905; Nobel prize for literature, 1912; Goethe prize (Frankfurt), 1932. Honorary degrees: Oxford University, 1905; University of Leipzig, 1909; University of Prague, 1921; Columbia University, New York, 1932. Ordre pour le Mérite, 1922. Died: 8 June 1946.



Dramatic Works, edited by Ludwig Lewisohn. 9 vols., 1912-29.

Sämtliche Werke, edited by Hans-Egon Hass. 11 vols., 1962-74.

Short Stories

Fasching. 1887.

Bahnwärter Thiel. 1888; as "Lineman Thiel" in Lineman Thiel and Other Tales, 1989.

Der Apostel (novella). 1890.

Der Ketzer von Soana. 1918; as The Heretic of Soana, 1923.

Die Hochzeit auf Buchenhorst. 1931.

Das Meerwunder. 1934.

Der Schuss im Park. 1939.

Das Märchen. 1941.

Mignon (novella). 1944.

Lineman Thiel and Other Tales. 1989.


Der Narr in Christo, Emanuel Quint. 1910; as The Fool in Christ, Emanuel Quint, 1911.

Atlantis. 1912; translated as Atlantis, 1912.

Lohengrin. 1913.

Parsival. 1914.

Phantom. 1922; translated as Phantom, 1923.

Die Insel der grossen Mutter. 1924; as The Island of the Great Mother, 1925.

Wanda. 1928.

Buch der Leidenschaft. 1930.

Im Wirbel der Berinfung. 1936.


Vor Sonnenaufgang (produced 1889). 1889; as Before Dawn, 1909; in Three German Plays, 1963; as Before Daybreak, 1978; as Before Sunrise, edited by Jill Perkins, 1978.

Das Friedenfest (produced 1890). 1890; as The Coming of Peace, 1900; as The Reconciliation, in Dramatic Works, 1914.

Einsame Menschen (produced 1891). 1891; as Lonely Lives, 1898.

Die Weber (produced 1893). 1892; as The Weavers, 1899; in Five Plays, 1961.

Kollege Crampton (produced 1892). 1892; as Colleague Crampton, in Dramatic Works, 1914.

Der Biberpelz (produced 1893). 1893; as The Beaver Coat, 1912; in Five Plays, 1961.

Hanneles Himmelfahrt (produced 1893). 1893; translated as Hannele, 1894; in Five Plays, 1961.

Florian Geyer (produced 1896). 1896; translated as Florian Geyer, in Dramatic Works, 1929.

Die versunkene Glocke (produced 1896). 1896; as The Sunken Bell, 1898.

Fuhrmann Henschel (produced 1898). 1898; as Drayman Henschel, in Dramatic Works, 1913; in Five Plays, 1961.

Schluck und Jau (produced 1900). 1900; as Schluck and Jau, inDramatic Works, 1919.

Michael Kramer (produced 1900). 1900; translated as Michael Kramer, in Dramatic Works, 1914.

Der rote Hahn (produced 1901). 1901; as The Conflagration, inDramatic Works, 1913.

Die arme Heinrich (produced 1902). 1902; as Henry of Auë, inDramatic Works, 1914.

Rose Bernd (produced 1903). 1903; translated as Rose Bernd, inDramatic Works, 1913; in Five Plays, 1961.

Elga (produced 1905). 1905; translated as Elga, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Und Pippa tanzt! (produced 1906). 1906; as And Pippa Dances, 1907.

Die Jungfrau vom Bischofsberg (produced 1907). 1907; as Maidens of the Mount, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Kaiser Karls Geisel (produced 1908). 1908; as Charlemagne's Hostage, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Griselda (produced 1909). 1909; translated as Griselda, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Die Ratten (produced 1911). 1911; as The Rats, in Dramatic Works, 1913.

Gabriel Schillings Flucht (produced 1912). 1912; as Gabriel Schilling's Flight, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Festspiel in deutschen Reimen (produced 1913). 1913; as Commemoration Masque, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Der Bogen des Odysseus (produced 1914). 1914; as The Bow of Ulysses, in Dramatic Works, 1919.

Winterballade (produced 1917). 1917; as A Winter Ballad, inDramatic Works, 1925.

Der weisse Heiland (produced 1920). 1920; as The White Savior, inDramatic Works, 1925.

Indipohdi (produced 1920). 1920; translated as Indipohdi, inDramatic Works, 1925.

Peter Bauer (produced 1921). 1921.

Veland. 1925; translated as Veland, in Dramatic Works, 1929.

Dorothea Angermann (produced 1926). 1926.

Spuk: Die schwarze Maske (produced 1929); Hexenritt (produced1928). 1929.

Vor Sonnenuntergang (produced 1932). 1932.

Die goldene Harfe (produced 1933). 1933.

Hamlet in Wittenberg (produced 1935). 1935.

Ulrich von Lichtenstein (produced 1939). 1939.

Die Tochter der Kathedrale (produced 1939). 1939.

Atridentetralogie: Iphigenie in Aulis, Agamemnons Tod, Elektra, Iphigenie in Delphi (produced 1940-44), 4 vols., 1941-48.

Magnus Garbe (produced 1942). 1942.

Die Finsternisse. 1947.

Herbert Engelmann, completed by Carl Zuckmayer (produced1952). 1952.

Five Plays. 1961.

Plays. 1994.


Promethidenlos. 1885.

Das bunte Buch. 1888.

Anna. 1921.

Die blaue Blume. 1924.

Till Eulenspiegel. 1928.

Ährenlese. 1939.

Der grosse Traum. 1942.

Neue Gedichte. 1946.


Griechischer Frühling. 1908.

Ausblicke. 1922.

Gesammelte Werke. 12 vols., 1922.

Um Volk und Geist. 1932.

Gespräche, edited by Josef Chapiro. 1932.

Das Abenteuer meiner Jugend. 1937.

Diarium 1917 bis 1933, edited by Martin Machatzke. 1980.

Notiz-Kalender 1889 bis 1891, edited by Martin Machatzke. 1982.

HauptmannLudwig von Hofmann: Briefwechsel 1894-1944, edited by Herta Hesse-Frielinghaus. 1983.

Otto Brahm, Hauptmann: Briefwechsel 1889-1912, edited by Peter Sprengel. 1985.

Tagebuch 1892 bis 1894, edited by Martin Machatzke. 1985.

Tagebücher 1897 bis 1905, edited by Martin Machatzke. 1987.

Ein Leben für Hauptmann: Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1929-1990, edited by Walter A. Reichart. 1991.


Critical Studies:

The Death Problem in the Life and Works of Hauptmann by Frederick A. Klemm, 1939; Hauptmann by Hugh F. Garten, 1954; Hauptmann: His Life and Work by C. F. W. Behl, 1956; Hauptmann: The Prose Plays by Margaret Sinden, 1957; Witness of Deceit: Hauptmann as a Critic of Society by L. R. Shaw, 1958; Hauptmann: Centenary Lectures edited by K. G. Knight and F. Norman, 1964; Hauptmann in Russia, 1889-1917: Reception and Impact by Albert A. Kipa, 1974; From Lessing to Hauptmann: Studies in German Drama by Ladislaus Löb, 1974; Hauptmann and Utopia, 1976, and Hauptmann: Religious Syncretism and Eastern Religions, 1984, both by Philip Mellen; The Image of the Primitive Giant in the Works of Hauptmann by Carolyn Thomas Sussère, 1979; The German Naturalists and Hauptmann: Reception and Influence by Alan Marshall, 1982; Domination, Dependence, Denial and Despair: Father-Daughter Relationships in Grillparzer, Hebbel, and Hauptmann by Charles F. Good, 1993; "Gerhart Hauptmann's Sonnen, Meditationen: A Syncretitstic Odyssey" by Philip Mellen, Winter 1995, pp.24-31.

* * *

Primarily known as a dramatist, Gerhart Hauptmann frequently wrote in other genres like the verse epic, the novel, and the story during a prolific career spanning 65 years. In all he completed ten works of short fiction, but only Bahnwärter Thiel ("Lineman Thiel") and Der Ketzer von Soana (The Heretic of Soana) have received widespread public and critical acclaim. His later stories in particular have suffered neglect, partly because, having first gained a reputation as the author of social dramas ("Before Sunrise" and "The Weavers"), he remains stubbornly associated with naturalism.

In fact, apart from "Lineman Thiel" (1888), only Hauptmann's first story, "Carnival," written earlier the same year, is to any extent an exemplary naturalist text. Significantly subtitled "A Study," it represents a slice of working-class life, set in a clearly identifiable rural milieu southeast of Berlin. Here a sail maker called Kielblock, returning home in darkness across a frozen lake, loses his way and drowns, together with his wife and young child. Determined to make the most of the Shrovetide carnival—a last chance to indulge himself before spring when his workload increases—Kielblock has spent the previous 24 hours in an orgy of dancing, gaming, and drinking, and his excessive alcohol consumption contributes greatly to the catastrophe. Hauptmann's use of local dialect gives the tale verisimilitude, and his playwright's skills are evident both in the ironic devices employed to anticipate the drowning and the build-up of suspense prior to it.

Another early story, Der Apostel ("The Apostle"), is subtitled "A Novella-like Study," but here the dramatic action traditionally associated with the German novella is mostly in the mind of the unnamed central character, a semi-deranged itinerant preacher proclaiming a gospel of pacifism and reverence for nature. In evoking this figure's acute spiritual anguish and the narcissism and delusions of grandeur that culminate in his imitation of Christ, Hauptmann is clearly influenced by Georg Büchner's story Lenz, which he greatly admired. Extensive use of free indirect discourse combined with emotionally loaded descriptions of nature allow the reader to share the character's vision from within and, thus, to an extent, to sympathize with him. No authorial judgement is passed on his views, but evidence from other works suggests that his Tolstoian ideals and his cultural pessimism, expressed in negative comments on war, city life, and modern technology, have Hauptmann's approval.

An even more radical rejection of modern civilization is depicted in the longer novella The Heretic of Soana, which enjoyed great popularity after World War I. The main character here is not an apostle but an apostate: a young, ascetic Catholic priest whose senses are suddenly aroused by an erotic encounter with a peasant girl living on the fringes of his parish. He abandons for her his flock and becomes a pastor in the literal sense—a goatherd enjoying a timeless, Arcadian existence high on the Monte Generoso above Lake Lugano. Hauptmann adopts the device of a neutral editor to frame the heretic's first-person narrative, but he clearly shares his character's anti-Christian, Dionysian views, which are strongly reminiscent of Nietzsche. Nature and Eros are celebrated with occasionally compelling lyricism, but the work is stylistically uneven, at points bordering on kitsch.

The six stories Hauptmann wrote in the last 20 years of his life, none of which has appeared in English translation, are technically less sophisticated than "Lineman Thiel" or "The Apostle." They owe more to traditional oral narrative, the death of which is actually bemoaned in one of them, Der Schuss im Park (The Shot in the Park) of 1939, by an old retired forester. This character proceeds to tell his nephew, over a bottle of wine and several pipes of tobacco, a tale from his past involving an aristocratic German explorer guilty of bigamy. A similar yarn is encountered in Das Meerwunder (The Miracle of the Sea), where the raconteur is an ancient mariner relating his adventures—this time over several bottles of wine—to an assembled group of eccentrics. In other tales the first-person narrator is undisguisedly Hauptmann himself, whether drawing heavily on memories of his student days in Jena—Die Hochzeit auf Buchenhorst (The Wedding at Buchenhorst)—or giving a humorously surreal account of a night spent at the very inn where he was born and that now is threatened with imminent demolition—"Die Spitzhacke" (The Pick-axe) of 1930.

The subject matter of these later stories is varied, but some thematic links are discernable. Erotic fascination and dependency, so prominent in "Thiel" and The Heretic of Soana, recur, for instance, in Der Schuss im Park, Das Meerwunder, and Hauptmann's last novella, Mignon, where the aging narrator is totally captivated by the eponymous heroine, the homeless, orphaned daughter of a nobleman who lives the life of a wandering minstrel. The cultural pessimism of earlier stories also resurfaces, sometimes in even bleaker form, as in Das Meerwunder, the positively misanthropic message of which may indirectly reflect Hauptmann's despair at the triumph of Nazism. Occasionally this pessimism turns to nostalgia for Germany's "good old days," whether in a eulogy about timber-framed houses in Meissen (Die Hochzeit auf Buchenhorst) or in the "wake" for the Hotel Krone ("Die Spitzhacke"), which is celebrated by a bizarre gathering of animals and birds, each representing a traditional German inn sign.

The fusion of reality and fantasy in the latter story is typical of Hauptmann's tendency to introduce more and more dream-like or supernatural elements into his later work. Such effects are most extreme in Das Meerwunder, which at times is worthy of Edgar Allan Poe. Less horrific, but certainly uncanny, is the three-fold appearance of Goethe's ghost in Mignon, a story rich in allusions to "Wilhelm Meister." Another example is Das Märchen (The Fairy-Tale), a rather heavy-handed reworking of Goethe's symbolic fantasy of the same title. Here the contrast with the faithful representation of social realities in "Carnival" and "Lineman Thiel" could not be more marked.

—David Horrocks

See the essay on "Lineman Thiel."