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Dantons Tod


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Georg Büchner (1813—1837)

Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow (1811—1878)

Georges Danton (1759—1794) French revolutionary

Gottfried von Einem (1918—1996)

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A: Georg Büchner W: 1835 Pf: 1902, Berlin Pb: 1835 Tr: 1939 G: Drama in 4 acts; German prose S: Paris, 1794 C: 24m, 6f, extrasDanton, at one time a fiery leader of the French Revolution, now finds himself haunted by the deaths he has caused and so paralysed by lethargy that he will neither address the National Convention nor take any steps to save his own life. By contrast, the puritanical and ruthless Robespierre makes powerful speeches to the Jacobins and conspires to bring Danton to the guillotine. A meeting between the two men merely underlines their differences. Danton is brought to court, charged with betraying the Revolution. Although he defends himself eloquently, disturbances in the streets serve as a pretext to condemn Danton and his supporters. In prison he reflects on life and death, and he and his friends take leave of one another. His wife gets herself arrested, so that she will follow him into death.

A: Georg Büchner W: 1835 Pf: 1902, Berlin Pb: 1835 Tr: 1939 G: Drama in 4 acts; German prose S: Paris, 1794 C: 24m, 6f, extras

Arguably the greatest historical drama of the 19th century, Danton's Death is very modern in conception, since the central figure is no active figure. Rather, he is world-weary, no longer willing to attempt to control what happens to him. This reflects not only Büchner's interest in the anti-hero but also his political belief that it is historical events that control individuals, who are merely ‘froth on the wave’. Originally published as a text to be read, this episodic play with its 32 scenes and unaccustomed realism was thought until the 20th century to be unstageable.

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