Sternheim, Carl


Sternheim, Carl
(1878-1942)
   dramatist; applauded in the Republic's early years for his plays satirizing bourgeois society. Born in Leipzig to a Jewish banker and theater* critic, he grew up in Berlin* and resolved in his teens to become a writer. After broad studies during 1897-1901, he spent much of the next two decades developing a literary style. In 1907, after marrying the wealthy Thea Bauer (a stage designer), he settled in Munich and, with critic Franz Blei, founded the journal Hyperion. His first success, Die Hose (The trousers), ap-peared in 1911.
   Sternheim s early work, inspired by Nietzsche and Ibsen, leaned on a neo-romantic tendency to explore the relationship between life and art. But, unsuc-cessful with romanticism, he shifted to comic satire. Between 1910 and 1922 he wrote a series of plays collected in 1922 as Aus dem burgerlichen Helden-leben (From the heroic life of the bourgeoisie). He was only indirectly political (he championed individualism), and his interest in the bourgeoisie was con-cerned less with class than with mental attitude—his middle class was sexually dissolute and unexcelled in its drive for status. His Maske trilogy, of which Die Hose was the first part (it was followed by Der Snob and 1913), is a saga through which each of three generations forfeits its identity for the sake of greed. His characters evoke little interest apart from the vices they illustrate. Because his work was rejected by the Kaiser s censor, he achieved popularity only after World War I; indeed, in the early Republic he vied with Georg Kaiser* as Germany s most favored playwright.
   In the war, during which he translated and adapted many of Moliere's plays, Sternheim began comparing himself to the French playwright. He also wrote essays, short stories, and the novel Europa (1919-1920), although they were less well known. For some time his marriage to Bauer enabled an extravagant lifestyle, but a nervous disorder produced growing irritability and myriad changes in address. For several years, until a bitter separation from Bauer in 1924, he wrote for the Expressionist* journal Aktion.* His post-1925 work, increasingly personal, demonstrates a marked decline in his literary powers. After Hitler* seized power, he settled in Brussels.
   REFERENCES:Beckley, "Carl Sternheim"; Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Wendler, Carl Sternheim; Williams, Carl Sternheim.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Carl Sternheim — (* 1. April 1878 in Leipzig; † 3. November 1942 in Brüssel) war ein deutscher Dramatiker und Autor von Erzählungen. In seinen Werken griff er besonders die Moralvorstellungen des Bürgertums der Wilhelminischen Zeit an. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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