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Wallenstein's Camp / The Piccolomini / The Death of Wallenstein

af Friedrich Schiller

Serier: Wallenstein (1,2,3), Meyers Klassiker-Ausgaben (Schiller 4)

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1641125,775 (3.33)7
"By the time Frederich Schiller came to write the Wallenstein trilogy, his reputation as one of Germany's leading playwrights was all but secured. Consisting of Wallenstein's Camp, The Piccolomini and Wallenstein's Death, this suite of plays appeared between 1798 and 1799, each production under the original direction of Schiller's collaborator and mentor, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Across the three plays, which are now commonly performed and printed together, Schiller charts the thwarted rebellion of General Albrecht von Wallenstein. Based loosely on the events of the Thirty Years' War, the trilogy provides a unique perspective on an army's loyalty to their commander and the machinations and intrigues of international diplomacy, giving insight into the military hero who is placed on the threshold between these forces as they are increasingly pitted against one another. The Wallenstein trilogy, formally innovative and modern beyond its time, is a brilliant study of power, ambition and betrayal. In this new translation--the latest in a long line of distinguished English translations starting with Coleridge's in Schiller's lifetime--Flora Kimmich succeeds in rendering what is often a difficult source text into language that is at once accessible and enjoyable. Coupled with a complete and careful commentary and a glossary, both of which are targeted to undergraduates, it is accompanied by an authoritative introductory essay by Roger Paulin. Kimmich's translation will be an invaluable resource for students of German, European literature and history, and military history, as well as to all readers approaching this important set of plays for the first time."--Publisher's website.… (mere)
  1. 00
    Gustav Adolfs Page af Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (MissBrangwen)
    MissBrangwen: Although the two texts are very different, they are both German classics taking place during the Thirty Years War. Wallenstein is also a character appearing in "Gustav Adolfs Page", although not an important one.
  2. 00
    William Tell af Friedrich Schiller (MissBrangwen)
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In the ten years between Don Carlos and the Wallenstein trilogy, Schiller was busy with the academic side of history, taking up a post as professor in Jena and publishing various essays on the theory of history and a book-length history of the Thirty Years War. (He was also starting a family, and there must have been a certain amount of rather distracting European History happening around him as well...). But, anyway, it's probably no surprise that when Goethe persuaded him to come back to writing plays, he picked a subject from the Thirty Years War, a horrible and insanely destructive conflict that left a huge imprint on German culture.

Albrecht von Wallenstein, the Bohemian military contractor who had risen from nowhere to become the commander-in-chief of the Emperor's armies in the first half of the war, and who had turned back the seemingly unstoppable advance of Gustavus Adolphus, was not on good terms with Ferdinand II by the end of 1633. He seemed to be reluctant to bring his troops out of their Bohemian camps into action, and there were strong rumours in Vienna that he was plotting to make his own peace with the Swedes and Saxons. After he had disobeyed a direct order to deploy troops in support of the Spanish, and had aroused suspicions further by summoning a meeting of his generals in Plzeň, at which they took a renewed oath of loyalty to Wallenstein (with no mention of the Emperor), Ferdinand conducted a secret trial in absentia, condemned Wallenstein to death for treason, and issued orders for him to be brought to Vienna dead or alive. The rebellion, if it was a rebellion, collapsed, Wallenstein escaped to Cheb (Eger) with a few loyal troops, but was assassinated there before he could join the advancing Swedes.

Historians are still arguing about whether Wallenstein was selling out for personal gain (he was said to be after the Bohemian crown) or whether he was acting in the belief that it was his duty to stop the killing, in the interests of the German people (but not the Emperor). There's also the strong possibility that syphilis had driven him effectively insane by this point, and he wasn't acting rationally at all.

Schiller treats these events in a set of two-and-a-half plays. Die Piccolomini and Wallensteins Tod are full-length five-act pieces, the first set around the Plzeň conference in January 1634 and the second in Plzeň and Cheb in the run-up to the assassination on 25 February. They are preceded by the one-act Wallensteins Lager, which serves as a prologue to the other two parts, giving us the chance to eavesdrop on what the ordinary soldiers in the camp are saying about their commander and about the political events going on around them. Significantly, none of the characters in this has a name in the Dramatis Personae — they are all "a dragoon", "a canteen-woman", "a cuirassier", "a sergeant-major", etc. It has quite a modern, film-like effect, as we shift in and out of the overlapping stories of all these people, and of course it ends with a rousing soldiers' chorus. (And if you ever wondered where Brecht got the idea for a play about a canteen-woman and her wagon, this is it.)

In the main story, Schiller seems to attract our attention more to the struggles between conflicting loyalties going on in the minds of the officers in Wallenstein's entourage than to the man himself. In particular, we spend a lot of time with Wallenstein's trusted subordinate, General Ottavio Piccolomini, who has already written secretly to Vienna denouncing his chief and is now negotiating with the Imperial commissioner for the best possible position after Wallenstein goes down, and with Ottavio's son Max, a dashing young cavalry commander who has a kind of father-son relationship with Wallenstein and has just fallen heavily in love with his daughter.

Schiller does have some fun with Wallenstein's known obsession with astrology, which he uses to make us think about how much an individual, even a powerful one like Wallenstein, has agency to change the course of history, and how much he is pulled along by a determined historical process. Schiller's audience in 1799 would probably have had good reason to be asking themselves that kind of question with an eye to what was going on in France at the time, but it also fits in with ideas he was tossing around in Don Carlos. There are echoes of Antony and Cleopatra, of course, but this isn't a Shakespeare remake.

Another interesting thread of all three plays is the way Schiller foregrounds the international, mercenary nature of the army, and tells us about the ways an army like that would have been different from the conscripted "citizen armies" of the late 18th century. Soldiers — Irish, Scots, Croats, Germans, Czechs, Swiss, Walloons, Neapolitans — are there in most cases because they don't have another viable way to earn a living; their respect and loyalty go in the first place to their commanders, the people who ensure that they get a reasonably good supply of pay and plunder and have something to eat. The changing fates of Emperors and states are something they need to be aware of in deciding when it's safest to stick with their current employer and when it might be better to switch sides, but they don't arouse abstract loyalties. Obviously, Wallenstein in his prime was someone who could talk to men like that in the right terms to make them follow him into terrible danger, but by this point he's not. It's a fascinating study of collapsing credibility.

Difficult to imagine how it would work in the theatre, but very interesting. ( )
  thorold | Sep 7, 2020 |
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Complete in 3 parts: Wallenstein's Camp ; The Piccolomini ; The Death of Wallenstein
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"By the time Frederich Schiller came to write the Wallenstein trilogy, his reputation as one of Germany's leading playwrights was all but secured. Consisting of Wallenstein's Camp, The Piccolomini and Wallenstein's Death, this suite of plays appeared between 1798 and 1799, each production under the original direction of Schiller's collaborator and mentor, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Across the three plays, which are now commonly performed and printed together, Schiller charts the thwarted rebellion of General Albrecht von Wallenstein. Based loosely on the events of the Thirty Years' War, the trilogy provides a unique perspective on an army's loyalty to their commander and the machinations and intrigues of international diplomacy, giving insight into the military hero who is placed on the threshold between these forces as they are increasingly pitted against one another. The Wallenstein trilogy, formally innovative and modern beyond its time, is a brilliant study of power, ambition and betrayal. In this new translation--the latest in a long line of distinguished English translations starting with Coleridge's in Schiller's lifetime--Flora Kimmich succeeds in rendering what is often a difficult source text into language that is at once accessible and enjoyable. Coupled with a complete and careful commentary and a glossary, both of which are targeted to undergraduates, it is accompanied by an authoritative introductory essay by Roger Paulin. Kimmich's translation will be an invaluable resource for students of German, European literature and history, and military history, as well as to all readers approaching this important set of plays for the first time."--Publisher's website.

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