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HEINER MULLER The Despair and the Hope Carl Weber "Bombs are to be placed somewhere- but, first of all, at the roots of most of our contemporary modes of thought." (From the P.S. to the "Manifesto" of November 13, 1926.) Antonin Artaud, January, 8 1927. Two years later, January 9, 1929, Heiner Miller was born in Eppendorf, Saxony . Today he lives in East Berlin, though his works receive more attention in West Germany than in the German Democratic Republic. He has received the prestigious Heinrich Mann Prize of the GDR, and he was awarded literary prizes in the West, the last one in September 1979 when he was given the Prize for Contemporary Drama of the city of Mulheim, West Germany. He couldn't travel to Mulheim to accept the award, but in the acceptance speech mailed to the committee he pointed out: "Playwriting has become a lonely business again, the theories have turned gray in the empty idling of the discussions; this situation can only be changed by political events and not without the political input of the arts." 135 Ee Heiner M6ller is a poet and playwright whose work has been split down the middle by the history of this century, by the fragmentation of our world and, very specifically, by the partition of his own country. This doesn't mean that he refrained from taking sides. He definitely has chosen the side of socialism. But, just as definitely, he occupied the position of a highly skeptical and deeply concerned observer, the lonely corner of a truly independent thinker, in an age and in a country where such a position was never especially popular. He does enjoy privileges, as he said himself on many occasions: the privileges of talent. Yet, he is paying dearly for them, as he shows us in The Hamletmachine. So far, M6ller has written nearly thirty plays, adaptations and translations; the poems, stories, essays and other texts he wrote are impossible to count since a number have appeared under pseudonyms. His influence on many of the younger German playwrights can only be compared to that of Brecht in MUller's own generation. In fact, he is in danger of becoming a kind of guru - a position he probably loathes more than anyone. Even those who disagree with his philosophical and political opinions probably wouldn't deny the statement of the prominent critic F.J. Raddatz: "Heiner MIIller is the most important dramatist in the German language since the war - this fact is not disputed among serious critics of literature." The plays of Heiner Muller Der LohndrUcker (The Scab), 1956. Die Korrektur (The Correction), 1957-58. Klettwitzer Bericht (The Klettwitz Report), 1957-58. Traktor (Tractor), 1955-61. Die Baurn (The Farmers), 1964. Philoktet, 1958-66. Herakles 5, 1964. Prometheus, 1967-68. Der Horatier (The Horatian), 1968-69. Mauser, 1970. Macbeth (based on Shakespeare's play), 1971. Zement (Cement), 1972. Die Schlacht (The Battle), 1951-74. Leben Gundlings Friedrich von Preussen Lessing's Schiaf Traum Schrei(Life of Gundling Frederic of Prussia Lessing's Sleep Dream Scream), 1976. Germania Tod in Berlin (Germania Death in Berlin), 1976. Die Hameltmaschine (The Hamletmachine), 1977. Adaptations Zehn Tage die die Welt erschUtterten (Ten days that Shook the World; based on John Reed's book), 1956-57. GlUcksgott (God of Good Luck), 1968. Horizonte (Horizons), 1968. Drachenoper (Dragon Opera), 1968. Weiberkomoedie (Women's Comedy), 1969. 136 These plays, aside from the adaptations, can be roughly divided into three groups. The first, beginning with The Scab and ending with The Construction Site, deal mainly with problems and contradictions of the reconstruction period and of the emerging new social structure in East Germany after World War 11 and during the early years of the German Democratic Republic. The model Brecht's theatre constituted for Heiner M'Iller is clearly evident in the epic dramaturgy and the gestic language of these plays. The second group, from Philoctetes to Zement, are plays which paraphrase, in a very free and original way, fables and forms of the Greek classics, of Shakespeare, Brecht and of the early Soviet writer Gladkov. They are not adaptations but original works which exploit the material they are based on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 135-140
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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