Nestroy and the Critics

July 1994
120 pages
22.8x15.2 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781879751972
Format: Hardback
Camden House

Nestroy and the Critics

W.E. Yates

First survey of the history of criticism on the plays of the Viennese dramatist Nestroy.
Johann Nepomuk Nestroy (1801-62) dominated the Viennese popular stage from the early 1830s until his retirement in 1860, both as an actor, and as the author of some 80 plays, mostly satirical comedies with farcical plots illuminated by virtuoso word play. His reputation, however, has always been mixed. This book, the first ever survey of the whole history of Nestroy criticism, traces the changing critical reactions to him, beginning with contemporary records, which show how he often offended the morals of conservative theatre critics; his acidic wit led to his being considered a destructive cynic, an assessment which became a critical orthodoxy in the half-century after his death. It was not until 1912 that he was 're-discovered' by Karl Kraus as a linguistic genius, and in the last 40 years the rise in his reputation has been meteoric. The story Professor Yates traces is not just one of changing fashion, with shifts in critical judgement, but of the struggle to establish a reliable evaluation of Nestroy's stature — reflected in the many attempts to establish a definitive text of his work.


Writes lucidly and compellingly about his subject, whose work he obviously loves, inspiring the reader to read more of Nestroy's plays... GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

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