Hirschfeld, Georg

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HIRSCHFELD, GEORG (1873–1942), German playwright and novelist. Dissatisfied with a business and industrial career in his father's Berlin factory, in 1893 he read humanities at the Munich University. He began to write plays, encouraged by Gerhart Hauptmann and Otto *Brahm. Hirschfeld's first drama, Die Muetter (1896), was his most effective work and a stage success for many years. Written in the tradition of Ibsen and Hauptmann, this example of German naturalism brings to life characters drawn from the Jewish bourgeoisie. Hirschfeld's own experiences inspired his hero's struggle between bourgeois respectability and artistic yearning, between obligations to others and loyalty to his own personality. A second drama, Agnes Jordan (1897), also dealt with Berlin's Jewish society. Although Hirschfeld continued to write naturalistic, neoromantic, and sensational plays, he never fulfilled the hopes roused by his first drama. He also published a short story about Kleist, Daemon Kleist (1895), and one outstanding novel, Der Bergsee (1896). Hirschfeld's later tales were, however, essentially sentimental and entertaining. In 1905 he moved to Dachau, where he became member of the local artist's colony; from 1912 he lived in Muenchen-Grosshadern. He died in Munich.


W. Heynen, Mit Gerhart Hauptmann (1922), 117–38. add. bibliography: S. Becker, in: W. Killy (ed.), Literaturlexikon 5 (1990), 350.

[Sol Liptzin]