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Self and Existence

J.M.R. Lenz's Subjective Point of View

Series:

Brigitta O'Regan

J.M.R. Lenz (1751-1792) was dismissed as nothing more than a passing meteor on the German literary scene by an early critic. Today, his plays are part of the repertoire of German theatre companies, and Die Soldaten, an opera by Bernd Alois Zimmermann based on Lenz's plays by the same name, recently opened at the London Coliseum.
The collage-like effect Lenz produces - scenes put together seemingly pell-mell - obscures the fact it is symmetry that serves as the underlying paradigm of his drama. Self and Existence probes the nature of this symmetry and the extent to which it reflects the personal philosophy of J.M.R. Lenz, poet, essayist, and playwright.
Self and Existence also suggests that Lenz's quest for Zuwachs an Existenz (a heightened awareness of being), a quest which anticipates the existential thought of Kierkegaard, was prompted by Kant's division of the individual self into an intelligible and sensible realm.