Büchner, Georg

Büchner, Georg
born Oct. 17, 1813, Goddelau, Hesse-Darmstadt
died Feb. 19, 1837, Zürich, Switz.

German dramatist.

As a medical student, he became involved in revolutionary politics and was forced to flee to Zürich. There he wrote plays marked by vivid imagination and unconventional structure, combining extreme naturalism with visionary power; he is regarded as a forerunner of the Expressionist movement. His first play, Danton's Death (1835), a drama of the French Revolution, was followed by Leonce and Lena (1836), a satire on the illusions of Romanticism. His last play, Woyzeck (1836), anticipated the social drama of the 1890s with its compassion for the poor and oppressed; it became the basis of a famous opera by Alban Berg.

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▪ German dramatist
born Oct. 17, 1813, Goddelau, Hesse-Darmstadt [Germany]
died Feb. 19, 1837, Zürich, Switz.
 German dramatist, a major forerunner of the Expressionist (Expressionism) school of playwriting of the early 20th century.

      The son of an army doctor, Büchner studied medicine at the Universities of Strasbourg and Giessen. Caught up in the movement inspired by the Paris uprising of 1830, Büchner published a pamphlet, Der hessische Landbote (1834; The Hessian Messenger), in Giessen calling for economic and political revolution, and he also founded a radical society, the Society for Human Rights. He escaped arrest by fleeing to Strasbourg, where he completed a dissertation. This earned him an appointment as a lecturer in natural science at the University of Zürich in 1836. He died in Zürich of typhoid fever the following year.

      Büchner's three plays were clearly influenced in style by William Shakespeare and by the German Romantic Sturm und Drang movement. In content and form they were far ahead of their time. Their short, abrupt scenes combined extreme naturalism with visionary power. His first play, Dantons Tod (1835; Danton's Death), a drama of the French Revolution, is suffused with deep pessimism. Its protagonist, the revolutionary Danton, is shown as a man deeply distraught at the bloodshed he had helped unleash. Leonce und Lena (written 1836), a satire on the nebulous nature of Romantic ideas, shows the influence of Alfred de Musset (Musset, Alfred de) and Clemens Brentano (Brentano, Clemens). His last work, Woyzeck, a fragment, anticipated the social drama of the 1890s with its compassion for the poor and oppressed. Except for Dantons Tod, not produced until 1902, Büchner's writings appeared posthumously, the fragmentary Lenz in 1839 and Woyzeck not until 1879. Woyzeck served as the libretto for Alban Berg (Berg, Alban)'s opera Wozzeck (1925).

      Büchner, the elder brother of the physician and philosopher Ludwig Büchner (Büchner, Ludwig), exercised a marked influence on the naturalistic drama that came into vogue in the 1890s and, later, on the Expressionism that voiced the disillusionment of many artists and intellectuals after World War I. He is now recognized as one of the outstanding figures in German dramatic literature.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Büchner, Georg — ► (1813 37) Escritor romántico alemán. Obras: La muerte de Danton, Leoncio y Lena (1836) y la inacabada Woyzeck (teatro), y la novela inconclusa Lenz. * * * (17 oct. 1813, Goddelau, Hesse Darmstadt–19 feb. 1837, Zürich, Suiza). Dramaturgo alemán …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Büchner, Georg — (1813 1837)    Playwright. Büchner s three plays remained unperformed during his lifetime and were not premiered until decades after his untimely death of typhoid in Zurich. His first was Dantons Tod(Danton sDeath, 1835), which he wrote in the… …   Historical dictionary of German Theatre

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