Monday, 12 September 2016

THE ORIGIN OF TRAGIC DRAMA BY WALTER BENJAMIN

The origin of German Tragic Drama by Walter Benjamin is translated into English by John Osborne. Walter was born in Berlin in 1892. He has authored many books during his lifetime. He died in September 1940. His other books are “One way street” and “Charles Baudelaire” to name a few. The origin of German tragic Drama is one of the most original books of literary and philosophical criticism of 20th century.  This book was written during the period May 1924 and late March or early April 1925.
The book mainly has three major divisions, First it deals with an epistemo – critical prologue, secondary Trauerspiel and tragedy, finally about allegory and trauerspiel. Trauerspiel literally means a mourning play which is used to refer to modern baroque tragedy   as distinct from classical tragedy. Tragedy is equal in majestic to heroic poetry. Writers of tragedy must be well versed with chronicles and history. Writing tragedies was formerly the task of emperors, princes, great heroes and sages. Among them Julius Caesar in his youth took up “Oedipus”, Augustus ‘’the Achilles and Ajax”
A tragedy however is a poem that leads from a happy beginning to a sad end.  Benjamin‘s text is multiple in its voice and intentions. The author carries his work with lot of brevity and proves that “Brevity is the soul of wit.’ Drama – a   specific   form of literary art, imitates by action and speech. The good old name for drama is “stage play”. The great German dramatists of the baroque were Lutherans. Tragic feelings were mostly influenced by Aristotle’s poetics and Nietzsche’s “Birth of tragedy.” The images and figures presented in the German Trauerspiel are dedicated to Durer’s genius of winged melancholy.
Snippets:
*The book mainly concentrates on the royal martyr dramas called Trauerspiel.
 *Introduction  of the book by George Steiner
*Trauerspiel is beautifully apt a presentation of man’s suffering and cruelty, made bearable through stately, even absurd form- A play of sorrow.
*The odyssey is the history of the human spirit, The Iliad is the history of nature.
The ancient epic was composed for recitation; the modern novel is written to be read; the drama is designed for representation by actors who impersonate the characters of its story and among whom the narrative and the dialogue are distributed.
*In the German “Trauerspiel “, too, natural setting intrudes increasingly into dramatic action.

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