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The Stage as ‘Der Spielraum Gottes’

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Olivia Gabor

Until the second half of the nineteenth century, the concept of the divine plays an obvious and major role in German literature. Through an analysis of twentieth-century German theatre, this book investigates continuities and discontinuities of this tradition. More specifically, it examines the modern estrangement from religious traditions coupled with the modern alienation from language. This work, however, reveals that there is also a continued divine presence on the stage in modernity, despite the general historical turn toward secular atheism. It deals with divine presence in the plays of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Wolfgang Borchert, Bertolt Brecht and Friedrich Dürrenmatt and analyzes their struggles with the limitations of language. The book demonstrates how these playwrights turn their skepticism toward language into a theatre where the stage becomes a playground for the divine.
Contents: Das Moderne and the Modern Predicament – Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann: a Modern Mystery Play – Wolfgang Borchert’s Drauβen vor der Tür: Expressionism without a Vision. An open door to God – Epic Theater: Bertolt Brecht’s Der gute Mensch von Sezuan: the Break with Illusions – Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Ein Engel kommt nach Babylon: «Verzweiflung» of Language and Faith in the Divine – Conclusion: Re-Presentations of the Divine.