Book for May 2007
Group 1
In 1912 Hofmannsthal adapted the 15th century English morality play Everyman as Jedermann, and Jean Sibelius (amongst others) wrote incidental music for it. The play became a staple at the Salzburg Festival, which Hofmannsthal founded with Max Reinhardt in 1920. His later plays revealed a growing interest in religious, particularly Roman Catholic, themes. It is clear that Hofmannsthal's dramas achieve several goals. First, they are works of literature. They are full of wonderfully composed verse and prose, and they often draw upon historical works for the theatre. Secondly, they reflect the time at which they were written. Hofmannsthal often parodies aspects of his own society, as we see in such plays as Der Schwierige. Finally, they express a metaphor for life that was dear to Hofmannsthal. The question: what type of being is man? Hofmannsthal answered: an actor, a player of games, and a dreamer.
About the Author
Hugo von Hoffmannsthal
Hofmannsthal was born in Landstraße, Vienna, the son of an upper-class Austrian mother, Anna Maria Josefa Fohleutner (1852–1904), and an Austrian–Italian bank manager, Hugo August Peter Hofmann, Edler von Hofmannsthal (1841–1915). His great-grandfather, Isaak Löw Hofmann, Edler von Hofmannsthal, from whom his family inherited the noble title "Edler von Hofmannsthal," was a Jewish merchant ennobled by the Austrian emperor. He began to write poems and plays from an early age. He met the German poet Stefan George at the age of seventeen and had several poems published in George's journal, Blätter für die Kunst. He studied law and later philology in Vienna but decided to devote himself to writing upon graduating in 1901. Along with Peter Altenberg and Arthur Schnitzler, he was a member of the avant garde group Young Vienna (Jung Wien).