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The Metamorphoses of Ancient Myths

Malgorzata Budzowska, Burc Idem Dincel, Jadwiga Czerwinska and Katarzyna Chizynska

This book gives a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of artistic dialogue with ancient myths. The contributions assume a double-track research approach. The contributors investigate the procedure of myths' recycling within Greco-Roman antiquity, and they consider modern re-occupations of myths in dramatic literature and theatre. Providing various examples of myths' reception from antiquity to present days, this book confirms the persistent human need of re-mythization.

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Myths as “Collective Experiences” in the German Democratic Republic on the Example of Chosen Works by Heiner Müller (Anna Zaorska)


Anna Zaorska*

Myths as “Collective Experiences” in the German Democratic Republic on the Example of Chosen Works by Heiner Müller

Abstract: The writers of the German Democratic Republic often reached for myths in order to discuss forbidden issues in an oblique way and deceive the censors. In one of the interviews, Heiner Müller admits that the purpose of these attempts was to raise crucial questions about socialism: “I want neither to write ancient plays today nor to adapt ancient topics. In the early 1960s the plays about Stalinism were forbidden. It was necessary to invent such a model to raise really important issues so that people could realize them at once.” The present article, basing on the works Philoctetes and The Horatian will discuss the reception of two ancient myths in the plays by Heiner Müller. The German playwright employs an interesting strategy: He adopts myths in varied, condensed form, setting the plot in mythical circumstances. Müller does not make an attempt to modernise his dramas by transferring their content into the new setting of time and space, but instead, he draws parallels between past and present. Müller’s plays are, in Norbert Otto Eke’s opinion, both historical and contemporary drama. Interestingly, according to Bertolt Brecht’s idea and his “alienation effect”, the spectators should not identify themselves with the events on stage, but only follow and analyse them. For this reason, the works of Müller can be qualified as didactic plays...

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