Hauptmann, Gerhart

Tagged: Author

(1862-1946) German playwright and author, winner of the 1912 Nobel Prize for Literature, whose greatest plays were performed before the turn of the century and whose novels were written later. Some plays are fantasy: Hanneles Himmelfahrt (1893; trans William Archer as Hannele: A Dream Poem 1894 chap), Die versunkene Glocke: Ein Deutsche Märchendrama (1896; trans C H Meltzer as The Sunken Bell 1899) and Des Grossen Kampffliegers, Landfahrers, Gaukers und Magiers Till Eulenspiegel Abenteuer, Streiche, Gaukeleien, Gesichte und Träume (1928), a drama in verse about Till Eulenspiegel. One novel, Atlantis (1912; trans Adele and Thomas Seltzer 1912), which has nothing to do with Atlantis, does contain supernatural elements, including the mysterious sinking of a ship much like the Titanic (the book was serialized in Germany about a month before the disaster). Of sf interest is Die Insel der grossen Mutter, oder Das Wunder von Ile des Dames: Eine Geschichte aus dem Utopischen Archipelagus (1924; trans Willa and Edwin Muir as The Island of the Great Mother 1925). The subtitle – "The Miracle of the Île des Dames: A Tale from the Utopian Archipelago" – fairly describes the complex mood of Hauptmann's Robinsonade, which portrays an all-woman Island society founded after a shipwreck as a return-to-the-soil Utopia; sadly, they all simultaneously become pregnant (how this happens is not explained), and their male offspring, who soon reinvent Technology, eventually revolt against their mothers, ending an ideal enterprise but reintroducing needed dynamism (Hauptmann assures his readers) into an abstractly described but recognizable aftermath world (see World War One). [JC]

Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann

born Obersaltzbrunn, Germany [now Poland]: 15 November 1862

died Agnetendorf, Poland: 6 June 1946

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