Astrid Weigert



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Elsa Bernstein (1866-1949) was a successful playwright at the turn of the last century whose works Wir Drei (The Three of Us, 1892), Dammerung (Twilight, 1893) and Maria Arndt (1908) are generally categorized as Naturalist dramas. Of those dramas, Dammerung was the most successful and received critical praise after its performance at the Freie Bühne Berlin, where, under the directorship of Otto Brahms German audiences were introduced to dramas by Ibsen, Hauptmann , and Holz Schlg to name a few of the best-known Naturalist dramatists. My approach to Bernstein's dramas and, for the purpose of this paper, in particular to Dämmerung, from an aesthetic-poetological perspective. This means that I read the drama in the context of the dominant Naturalist aesthetic and programmatic discourse as as put forth by a number of male authors in a number of literary journals of the period (such as Die Gesellschaft, Durch! or Freie Biihne). Against the background of this aesthetic discourse, Dammerung acquires a new dimension: it becomes an avenue for Elsa Bernstein to partake in the Naturalist aesthetic discourse via the genre of the drama.


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German Literature

Gender - Art - Science: Elsa Bernstein's Critique of Naturalist Aesthetics