Schiller the Dramatist

July 2009
225 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571134134
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT013000, DRA004020

Schiller the Dramatist

A Study of Gesture in the Plays

John Guthrie

In examining Schiller's often-neglected use of gesture, this study treats his dramas as written to be performed -- not merely read.
Many aspects of the works of Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) have attracted attention. His work as a philosopher and pioneering thinker in poetics and aesthetics and as a historian have recently been the focus of much attention. But Schiller's dramas have always held the most interest, and they continue to be performed regularly both in German-speaking lands and around the world. Schiller is a dramatist of psychological conflict rather than of abstract ideas, and he had a unique grasp of how to use the stage to that end. This study of Schiller's use of gesture begins with a discussion of the origins of the gestures he employs, viewing them in relation to his medical writings, his literary influences, theories of the theater and acting, and Enlightenment thinking in general. The study then considers the use of gesture and related aspects of stagecraft in Schiller's nine completed dramas, highlighting elements of continuity and development. It is concerned with the interpretation of gesture, often marginalized in studies of Schiller's works, and with the interrelationship between gesture and verbal text. It also considers Schiller's relationship to the theater of his day, and discusses the first performances of his plays as well as their more recent stage history in both Germany and Great Britain. Appearing in the 250th anniversary of Schiller's birth, this study treats his dramas as plays written to be performed -- as works that reach their fullest potential in the theater.

John Guthrie teaches modern German literature and language at the University of Cambridge, where he is fellow and director of studies at Murray Edwards College.

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Table of Contents

Schiller's Gestures: Origins and Contexts
An Experiment in Theater: Die Räuber
Playing at Politics: Die Verschwörung des Fiesko zu Genua
Violence and Silence in Domestic Tragedy: Kabale und Liebe
"The Court Watches and Listens": Gesture in Don Karlos
"Erweitert jetzt ist des Theaters Enge": Action, Space, and Gesture in the Wallenstein Trilogy
"Meine Maria wird keine weiche Stimmung erregen": The Two Faces of Classicism in Maria Stuart
"Nicht meiner Rede, deinen Augen glaube!" Perspective in Die Jungfrau von Orleans
Chaos in Classicism: Die Braut von Messina oder die feindlichen Brüder; Ein Trauerspiel mit Chören
Wilhelm Tell: The Triumph of Ambivalence
Works Cited


[B]reaks new ground [by] focusing on the origins and contexts of Schiller's gestures. . . . [O]ffers a wealth of information regarding Schiller's contemporary theater and the first performances of his plays as well as recent productions in both Germany and Great Britain. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: A CURRENT BIBLIOGRAPHY

The study could be useful both to practitioners in theater and to scholars of drama. BOOK NEWS

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