Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872) 

Grillparzer, the great Austrian dramatist, lived his whole life in Vienna, apart from occasional visits abroad. He worked in the Austrian civil service from 1814 to 1856 and never married. His younger brother Adolf committed suicide in 1817 and his mother committed suicide in 1819. Grillparzer was a great admirer of Goethe’s play Torquato Tasso, which he read in 1810. In 1838 he gave up writing for the theatre after a disastrous production of his first major comedy, Weh dem, der lügt!; Woe to him who lies. His last three plays were only performed after his death.

Grillparzer remained a loyal monarchist despite suffering under the censorship of the Metternich regime. This was because he regarded the rise of liberal nationalism as particularly dangerous to the Austrian empire, given that it was comprised of a number of different nations. For Grillparzer, the monarchic principle had to be preserved because only the monarchy was capable of preserving the unity of the multi-ethnic Austrian state. Like many Austrians, Grillparzer regarded Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky (1766-1858), who crushed the rebellion in Italy in 1848-49, as Austria’s saviour. Forced to choose between political repression and nationalism, Grillparzer regarded the former as the lesser of the two evils.

Grillparzer’s dramas include:

Die Ahnfrau; The Ancestress (published 1816, performed 1817)

Sappho (1818)

Das goldene Vließ; The Golden Fleece (1821)

König Ottokars Glück und Ende; King Ottokar, His Rise and Fall (1823, performed 1825)

Ein treuer Diener seines Herrn; A True Servant of his Master (1826, performed 1828)

Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen; Waves of the Sea and of Love (1831)

Der Traum ein Leben; The Dream, A Life (1834)

Weh dem, der lügt!; Woe to him who lies (1838)

Libussa (written 1848, published 1872, performed 1874)

Ein Bruderzwist in Habsburg; A Brotherly Dispute of the Habsburgs (written 1848-50, performed 1872, published 1873)

Die Jüdin von Toledo; The Jewess of Toledo (written around 1851, performed and published 1872)

Grillparzer’s novellas are:

Das Kloster bei Sendomir; The Monastery near Sandomierz (1828)

Der arme Spielmann; The Poor Fiddler (1848)

 Further Reading in English

 Arthur Burkhard, Franz Grillparzer in England and America (Vienna: Bergland, 1961)

F. J. Lamport, German Classical Drama: Theatre, Humanity and Nation 1750-1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), Chapter 10 on Grillparzer

Matthew McCarthy-Rechowicz, Franz Grillparzer’s Dramatic Heroines: Theatre and Women’s Emancipation in Nineteenth-Century Austria (Cambridge: Legenda, 2018)

E. E. Papst, ‘Franz Grillparzer’ in German Men of Letters, ed. by Alex Natan, vol. 1 (London: Wolff, 1961), pp. 99-120

Michael Perraudin, Literature, the Volk and Revolution in mid nineteenth-century Germany (Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 2001), Chapter 6 on Grillparzer and Stifter

Ian F. Roe, An Introduction to the Major Works of Franz Grillparzer, 1791-1872, Austrian Dramatist (Lewiston and Lampeter: Mellen Press, 1991)

Ian F. Roe, Franz Grillparzer: A Century of Criticism (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1995)

Clemens Ruthner, Marianne Henn, Raleigh Whitinger (eds.), Aneignungen, Entfremdungen: The Austrian Playwright Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872) (New York and Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007)

Bruce Thompson, A Sense of Irony: An Examination of the Tragedies of Franz Grillparzer (Berne: H. Lang, 1976)

Bruce Thompson and Mark Ward (eds.), Essays on Grillparzer (Hull: University of Hull, German Department, 1978)

Eva Wagner, An Analysis of Franz Grillparzer’s Dramas: Fate, Guilt, and Tragedy (Lewiston and Lampeter: Mellen, 1992)

W. E. Yates, Grillparzer: A Critical Introduction (London: Cambridge University Press, 1972)

Further Reading in German

Sibylle Blaimer, Tragische Scham und peinliche Prosa. Werk und Poetik Franz Grillparzers im Zeichen unsäglicher Affekte. Ein Beitrag zur (literarischen) Affektkultur des 19. Jahrhunderts (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2018)