October 16, 2014


Dramatist, poet and literary theorist is best remembered for his German classical dramas.

Son of an army officer Schiller was educated at a military academy but from an early age began to write poetry and drama.
His play Räuber (1781, The Robbers) first performed in 1782 at Mannheim marks an epoch in German dramatic history.

It was a vivid protest against petty tyranny and he had to flee from the lands of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg whose protégé he had been.
He became house dramatist to the Mannheim National Theatre.
Plays from this period include Kabale und Liebe (1784) and he also began Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (1787) in which he used blank verse.

Schiller went to Weimar for the first time in 1787.
His meeting there with Goethe in 1794 marked a turning point in Schiller´s career and the start of the most famous friendship in the history of German literature.
Goethe´s recommendation secured for Schiller the professorship of history at the University of Jena.
He at once started to publish studies of the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain and of the Thirty Years´ War.
The latter provided inspiration for Schiller´s great historical drama Wallenstein (1800).

Schiller also wrote much poetry including the hymm An die Freude (Ode to Joy) and many magnificent ballads.
His essays on aesthetics were very influential (Über naïve and sentimentalische Dichtung 1795-96 and Über das Erhabene 1801).

The plays of Schiller´s last period are historical dramas: Maria Stuart (1801), Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801) a romantic tragedy in which the story of Joan of Arc is treated with remarkable freedom and Die Braut von Messina (1803) which is in strict classical form.

Wilhelm Tell (1804) is Schiller´s most popular play.

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