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Plays and Poems

Plays and Poems

By Oskar Kokoschka
Translation by Michael Mitchell
Afterword by Karl Leydecker

"The well-known painter, Oskar Kokoschka, also produced a considerable and significant body of literary work: plays, a few poems, essays, and autobiographical stories. The present volume contains all his plays, (some in more than one version) and the poems, plus one short prose passage.

All the pieces in this collection, apart from the play Comenius, were written in the period 1907-1918. The plays, despite Kokoschka's dislike of the term, reflect the style of Expressionism current in Germany during the period. Indeed, the early ones anticipated and, to a certain extent, helped to define Expressionism. The titles of some - Job, The Burning Bush, Orpheus and Eurydice - reflect the use of the mythic mode. Comenius, which was started in the 1930s and only completed in 1972, is a large-scale historical panorama, focusing on the figure of the Czech humanist and educational reformer, Jan Amos Komensky. Comenius' fate reflects Kokoschka's own experience of an increasingly dark world of conflict and oppression. His ideal of a humanity guided by the light of reason cannot find realization amid the strife and carnage of the Thirty Years' War; at the end of the play it is reduced to a tiny spot of light in Rembrandt's picture The Night Watch. The Burning Bush, Orpheus and Eurydice and Comenius appear in English translation for the first time."

250 pages
Ariadne Press, 2001
5.8 x 1 x 9 inches
ISBN 9781572410411
Poetry, Plays 

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