The recipient of the 1912 Nobel Prize for Literature, Gerhart Hauptmann was an inspiration to Joyce, O'Neill, Miller, Mann, Rilke, Chekov, and others. Although his reputation is based largely on such naturalistic dramas as The Weavers, The Beaver Coat, and Drayman Henschell, Hauptmann never accepted the naturalistic label, preferring to adapt his style to the material at hand. Favoring instinct over reason, he tended to end his works with questions rather than definitive answers, emphasizing the evocation of mood over plot, and preferred communication via gesture to verbiage.
Understanding Gerhart Hauptmann reintroduces a writer who dominated the German literary scene from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The author of some fifty plays, twenty-five novels and shorter prose works, half a dozen verse epics, and numerous poems, Hauptmann, who died in 1946 at the age of eighty-three, lived to see his works revered as classics, popularized in films, and translated into more than thirty languages.
Warren R. Maurer has been a professor of German in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Kansas since 1968. He holds degrees from Franklin and Marshall College (B.A.), the University of Chicago (M.A.), and the University of California at Berkely (Ph.D.) and has spent a number of years studying and working in Germany. Maurer is the author of a book on German nationalism and a previous book on Gerhart Hauptmann; the co-editor of an anthology of articles on the poet Ranier Maria Rilke; and the author of numerous articles on German literature, folklore, and onomastics.