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Extra resources for Gerhart Hauptmann and the Naturalist Drama (German Theatre Archive)

Sample text

Heinrich Hart attacks Zola’s theory of the experimental novelwhich is at best a metaphor, at worst a polemic over-statement—with a curious literal-mindedness. Not without a certain Schadenfreude, he invokes the authority of none other than Claude Bernard (whose Introduction a l’étude de la médecine expérimentale had prompted Le Roman expérimental) to support his view that an experimental novel is an impossibility: ‘In art and literature personality is dominant. ’33 In all this Heinrich Hart does not differ radically from the more traditional critic, Karl Hillebrand (the father of the Naturalist writer, Julius Brand).

Hays, however, misreads the evidence, seriously understates the resistance which the naturalist dramatists faced in the 1880s, and attributes too much to the naked personal ambition of Brahm, disregarding the intellectual coherence and consistency—over almost three decades—of his project as critic, organiser, and director. 41 See Peter Sprengel, Gerhart Hauptmann: Epoche—Werk—Wirkung (Munich: Beck, 1984), pp. 49–50. NATURALISM AND THE THEATRE 43 One effect of the success of this particular private venture was imitation.

37 Munich came rapidly to be supplanted by the theatre capital, Berlin, as the centre of literary activity. 38 These now followed in swift succession: An Enemy of the People and Rosmersholm in 1887; The Wild Duck, Lady Inger, and a revival of A Doll’s House in 1888; The Lady from the Sea and a revival of Pillars of Society, as well as a further single performance of Ghosts in 1889. March 5, 6 and 7 of 1889 saw the performance in Berlin of three different plays by Ibsen. The confidence generated among the Naturalists by the feeling that they were really on the point of breaking through led them to take matters more firmly into their own hands.

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