The Nameable and the Unnameable: Hofmannsthal’s Der Schwierige Revisited

Christophe Fricker (Editor), Robert von Dassanowsky (Editor), Martin Liebscher (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book


This volume presents a comprehensive re-evaluation of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s most successful play. Der Schwierige marks Hofmannsthal’s attempt to both depict and overcome the language crisis he himself recognized in the 'Letter' to Lord Chandos. Written between 1909 and 1920, the play reflects Hofmannsthal’s experience of the atrocities of war, unnameable but constantly present behind the chatter in the Viennese salons. This shallow surface provides an insufficient cover for the numinous character of the existential crisis suffered by an individual faced with nothing less than the twilight of mankind.

Contributions to this volume address central motifs of the play (community, identity, gender) as well as the way in which it positions itself as a tragic comedy after the end of a catastrophic war. The play’s translation into other languages, its performance on stage and on screen, and its philosophical reception provide a second focal point of this volume. Hofmannsthal’s reaction to the downfall of the Habsburg Empire and his views on the role of marriage are two of the recurrent themes that are investigated into from various perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMunich
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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