Here is a unique and able appraisal of the prose plays of the modern German dramatist, Gerhart Hauptmann. A popular and controversial figure some fifty years ago when he was the chief representative of the German drama. Hauptmann was comparable in stature to Shaw in his native land, and his works have received the same wide recognition. Today, as for the past sixty years, his plays are being acted in all German-speaking countries. In West Germany alone, there have been some eight hundred yearly performances of his prose plays since the end of the Second World War. No one has filled his place, the drama having temporarily ceased to be the chief literary expression for the problem of the epoch, as it was at the turn of the century. Miss Sinden’s work brings out clearly that there was no other contemporary dramatist of Hauptmann’s stature in Germany.
Very little has been available heretofore in English on Hauptmann. Miss Sinden provides an extensive analysis and a careful consideration of the biographical, ethical, and aesthetic aspects of the prose dramas, bringing out the growth and decline of Hauptmann’s powers as a dramatist. Her interpretations of the female characters are particularly valuable. Her account as a whole is written with warmth and humanity. It opens up, at the same time, an epoch of struggle, social and political, which in itself is important to an understanding of contemporary Germany.