Franz Grillparzer

Franz Grillparzer

Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872), Austrian playwright, whose somber tragedies and historical dramas are considered masterpieces of the 19th-century Austrian theater. Born in Vienna, the son of a lawyer, he studied law at Vienna University but left for lack of funds. He made his living as a civil servant. In 1818 he became poet to the court theater.

Grillparzer wrote many tragedies of dramatic and poetic beauty, particularly notable for their psychological insight. Sappho (1818) deals with the problematical relationship of art to life. The pessimistic trilogy Das goldene Vlies (The Golden Fleece, 1822) is concerned with the ancient Greek tale of Jason and Medea. Grillparzer's masterly The Waves of Sea and Love (1831; trans. 1947) depicts the Greek lovers Hero and Leander. A Dream Is Life (1834; trans. 1946) and The Jewess from Toledo (1872; trans. 1953) are based on classical Spanish themes. Although many of Grillparzer's works were disliked by the censors and the public, they influenced later dramatists, such as the German Gerhart Hauptmann and the Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck.

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