German Literature from 1945 to 1990 Part II
The experimental poetry of this time was expressed by v. a. in concrete poetry. According to the theoretical specifications of the Swiss E. Gomringer, H. Heißenbüttel, M. Bense, F. Mon, the Austrian E. Jandl et al. towards a rational experience of reality, language was understood as technological material. Lyric poetry focused on the subject, often in encrypted language, was created by Rose Ausländer, Hilde Domin, Ingeborg Bachmann (“Die stundete Zeit”, 1953), H. Piontek, also EichandCelan made significant contributions. In the 1960s, the metaphysical impulse weakened due to the shift in interest to social and economic issues; the poem gave realistic instructions for action and life, socio-politically committed poetry prevailed (H.-J. Heise, the Austrian E. Fried, Margarete Hannsmann), epigram and aphorism were revived (A. Astel). Political songs, protest poems directed against the atomic weaponry, supported the student movement of 1968. H. M. Enzensberger and R. D. Brinkmann vehemently rejected the decorative element of the “absolute” poem by Benn’s successor. Brinkmann In return for a sacralization of form, demanded a »poetry of the surface« (»Die Piloten«, 1968) and, like other members of the Cologne School, oriented itself towards realistic poetry in the USA, similar to J. Theobaldy and Höllerer. The poetry of the 1970s, like prose, turned away from everyday politics. Instead of the enlightenment, the spirit of optimism, there were feelings, moods and a renewed relationship to nature. In the sense of this “New Subjectivity”, among others, wrote poetry. Born, G. Herburger, M. Krüger, J. Schenk, L. Fels. The pointed, song-like poems by W. Wondratschek were very successful, P. Rühmkorf found his own tone in these years with his poetry, rich in quotations and playful of language.
After 1945, the drama received new impulses from the radio play. The outstanding dramatic work of the immediate post-war period, W. Borchert’s homecoming drama “Outside in front of the door” (1947), was initially broadcast as a radio play. The German radio play of that time did not yet differentiate, as in its first heyday 1929–34, between pure word art and the form of the feature that conveyed information and knowledge. Important radio play authors in the 1950s were G. Eich,Ingeborg Bachmann, Hildesheimer, D. Wellershoff and the Austrian Friederike Mayröcker. In the 1970s, the radio play turned into a speaking play (W. Wondratschek, H. Heißenbüttel, D. Kühn) and based on language-critical and language-playful elements (Jürgen Becker, Ror Wolf).
The German-language stage drama was largely determined in the 1950s by the Swiss M. Frisch and F. Dürrenmatt. In the 1960s, a number of dramas with clear political commitment, some of which were documentary in character, were written in the Federal Republic of Germany: R. Hochhuth, »Der Stellvertreter« (1963); Weiss, “The persecution and murder of Jean Paul Marat…” (1964, revised 1965), “The investigation. Oratorio in 11 Gesänge «(1965), a documentary representation of the Auschwitz trial; H. Kipphardt, “In der J. Robert Oppenheimer” (1964); G. Grass, “The Plebeians Rehearse the Insurrection” (1966); Enzensberger, “The Habana Interrogation” (1970); all of these pieces sparked more or less heated public discussions. Other pieces were committed to the theater of the absurd, such as the early works by T. Dorst (“Große Schmährede an der Stadtmauer”, 1962) and Hildesheimer (“Die Verpätung”, 1961). The presentation of history and world problems in the theater was followed by everyday and provincial scenes, folk plays with a strong socio-critical intention: inter alia. M. Sperr, “Hunting Scenes from Lower Bavaria” (1966); R. W. Fassbinder, “Katzelmacher” (1970); F. X. Kroetz, “Stallerhof” (1972), “Wildwechsel” (1973); Gerlind Reinshagen , “Sunday Children” (1976), H. Achternbusch, “Plattling” (1982).
The gradual transition from political to existential drama is evident in the multitude of dramatized poets and historical figures: Dorst’s »Toller« (1968) and »Ice Age« (1973) around the old K. Hamsun, Weiss ‘ »Hölderlin« (1971), G Salvatores“Büchner’s Death” (1972), D. Fortes “Martin Luther & Thomas Münzer or the introduction of bookkeeping” (1971). After the politicization of the stage and drama, the withdrawal to the inner world ushered in a phase of renewed aestheticization, the protagonists of which were the Austrians P. Handke and B. Strauss (“Die Hypochonder”, 1972; “Trilogie des Wiedersehen”, 1976; “Groß und klein «, 1978) were.
1980s: (West) German literature of the 1980s covered the broad spectrum from the »conscience of the nation« to postmodern arbitrariness that blurred the lines between art and triviality. The older works of the great post-war authors testify to a rather pessimistic worldview: Böll, “Women in front of Flußlandschaft” (1985), S. Lenz, “Exerzierplatz” (1985), H. Lenz, “Der Wanderer” (1986), “Seltsamer Abschied” (1988), Canetti, “The Secret Heart of the Clock” (1987), Luise Rinser, “Growing Moon” (1988); also grass remains the tireless warner of world catastrophes (»Die Rättin«, 1986). The poets also articulate warning and resignation in the face of an increasing feeling of threat: K. Krolow (“Herbstsonett mit Hegel”, 1981), W. H. Fritz(“Wunschtraum, Alptraum”, 1981), L. Fels (“The beginning of the past”, 1984). A critical attitude towards the problems of contemporary (West) German society is also expressed in the documentary-based works (by F. C. Delius, P. O. Chotjewitz,Wallraff, among others). The female view of time problems is reflected in the narrative works, among other things. by Eva Zeller, Gisela Elsner, Gabriele Wohmann, Brigitte Kronauer, Anne Duden, Eva Demski, also in the poetry of Ulla Hahn, which reached a large audience.
Hofmann, who until then had only emerged with radio plays and dramas, introduced a new, poetic narrative into contemporary German literature with “Der Blindensturz” (1985), and R. Gernhardt established himself as a satirist of standing. Numerous younger authors with a wide variety of spellings spoke up in the 1980s: according to the narrators S. Nadolny, H.-J. Ortheil, T. Becker and P. Süskind (his novel “Das Parfum”, 1985, became the greatest German book success of the decade); provocative, experimental prose from the spirit of postmodernism came among others. by K. Modick, G. Köpf, R. Goetz. The most successful plays of the 1980s were Süskind’s monodrama “Der Kontrabaß” (1981) and Strauss ‘ modern “Midsummer Night’s Dream” version “Der Park” (1983). T. Strittmatter (»Brach«, 1984) and Kerstin Specht (»Das glowing Männla«, 1989) continued the socially critical popular theater.
Overall, the (West) German literary scene was determined by a sense of time, which J. Habermas described with the term “new confusion”.
In the last decade of the division of Germany, the authors who had left the GDR since W. Biermann’s expatriation in 1976 worked on their experiences. These works, with different aesthetic demands, are essential literary and contemporary historical documents: novels, autobiographical and documentary prose by Jurek Becker (»Aller Welt Freund«, 1982), K.-H. Jakobs (“The Endless Year”, 1983), S. Schütz (“Medusa”, 1986), Monika Maron (“Die Überläuferin”, 1986), Sarah Kirsch(“Allerlei-Rauh. Eine Chronik”, 1988), E. Loest (“Fallhöhe”, 1989); Poetry by R. Kunze (»on your own hope«, 1981), W. Biermann (“The twisted world, I like to see it”, 1982), Sarah Kirsch (“Katzenleben”, 1984), G. Kunert (“Berlin at times”, 1987), W. Hilbig and U. Kolbe.