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From Bohemia to the Barricades

Erich Mühsam and the Development of a Revolutionary Drama

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David Shepherd

The writer and political activist Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was one of the most colorful figures of the German revolutionary counter-culture early in this century. He developed a political philosophy which combined anarchist individualism with socialist resistance against the bourgeoisie. Mühsam is most widely known as one of the leaders of the Munich revolution of 1918-1919. Less well known is his extensive corpus of literary works, in which he attempted to articulate his political theory. This critical study - the first of its kind in English - discusses the development of Mühsam's politics, from marginal bohemian protest to committed revolutionary activism. In the context of that biography, it then examines Mühsam's five extant dramas as arenas of conflict between his radical politics and his persistently conservative aesthetics.