The Life and Works of Wolfgang Borchert

The Life and Works of Wolfgang Borchert

Gordon Burgess


Camden House



The first comprehensive study in English of the life and works of the important postwar dramatist and short-story writer.
Wolfgang Borchert has been called "the most important voice of post-war German literature." He came to fame literally overnight when his play Draussen vor der Tür (The Man Outside) was broadcast in the British zone of occupied Germany in February 1947 and evoked impassioned reactions both for and against. An examination of the plight of the returning soldier in the postwar world, it has become an icon of its time, capturing the futility of war and the true cost of the destruction in both physical and spiritual terms. Worldwide, Draussen vor der Tür has been produced more often than any other German play. Between January 1946 and his death in November 1947, Borchert wrote over forty short stories on the model of Hemingway and Wolfe, many of them highly experimental. Indeed, he is widely regarded as having introduced the short-story form into German literature. This is the first full-length account of Borchert's life and works in English. It benefits from unprecedented access to archival material and from interviews with Borchert's contemporaries. The study links Borchert's own literary ambition with the enlightened family circumstances in which he grew up, and charts his development from a rebellious teenager with a passion for theater via his fighting as a soldier on Germany's Eastern Front and his imprisonment by the Nazis to his brief but intense career as a writer.

Gordon Burgess is Emeritus Professor of German at the University of Aberdeen.


August 2003
266 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571132703
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
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Table of Contents

Childhood, School, Apprenticeship: 1921-1940
"The Happiest Time of My Life": January-June 1941
The Eastern Front and Courts-Martial: 1941-1943
Actor Turned Writer: Jena, Hamburg, and Basel: 1944-1947
The Poems
Draussen vor der Tür
The Short Stories
The Reception of Borchert's Life and Works
Works Cited

Reviews important, long overdue contribution to Borchert scholarship.... The volume belongs in every library because it provides invaluable basic research on Borchert's life and works. GERMAN QUARTERLY

Author Bio

Professor of German at King's College, Aberdeen, UK

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