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“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East)
Hitherto unknown archival material allows a closer look at Carl Schmitt as a theorist of culture and tragedy, and a fuller examination of Heiner Müller’s interest in, and debt to, him. The significance of Schmitt’s theory of drama for Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine is analyzed against the comparative background of Russian literary Hamletism. Müller’s self-conscious intertextualism was a response to, and an extension of, Schmitt’s critique of the role of artistic imagination in drama, which is treated here as but an element of his wider post-romantic cultural and social theory.
The title of this article contains a threefold reference. To start with, it plays on the titles of a number of narrative works that were published in Russia over some twenty years between the late 1840s and the late 1860s, notably Turgenev’s “Hamlet of the Shchigrov District” (1849) from Sketches from a Hunter’s Album and Leskov’s “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” (1865), whose title was consciously modeled on Turgenev’s.1 There were no doubt many more Shakespearean characters in the nineteenth-century Russian thick journals, but these would suffice to evoke the general picture of translating the heroic passions of monarchic history onto the diminished scale of the everyday, so specific of the Russian appropriation of Hamlet at the time. The second reference, equally easy to detect, is to Heiner Müller’s play Hamletmachine, to which a significant part of this essay is dedicated. The third reference, perhaps no less transparent, is to Carl Schmitt’s Hamlet book, which, as would become clear before long, was a major inspiration for Heiner Müller and should serve as a key to at least partially understanding the complex and multiple meanings of Müller’s drama. These three allusions mark the three parts of the present article. I start by briefly surveying the scene of Russian literary Hamletism, only to the extent where important (dis)continuities with Müller’s drama could be established.
See Iu. Levin, “Shestidesiatye gody”, in Shekspir i russkaia kul’tura, ed. M. Alekseev, Moscow and Leningrad: Nauka, 1965, 469. Levin later argued that while Turgenev’s title was unmistakably ironical, Leskov’s was meant as an entirely serious reference to his heroine’s cruelty (Iu. Levin, Shekspir i russkaia literature XIX veka, Leningrad: Nauka, 1988, 155). Leskov was also one of the few contemporaries to write approvingly of Turgenev’s 1860 speech “Hamlet and Don Quixote” (cf. I. Stoliarova, “‘Gamlet i Don Kikhot’: ob otklike N. S. Leskova na rech’ Turgeneva”, Turgenevskii sbornik, Leningrad: Nauka, 1967, Vol. 3, 120–23).
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Then I attempt a succinct interpretation of some central motifs of the almost impenetrable, and certainly unnarratable, text of the Hamletmachine, and finally I place Müller’s drama in the hermeneutic purview of Carl Schmitt’s postromantic cultural theory and social thought. I scrutinize Schmitt’s key propositions in the context of his failed project of overturning and leaving behind Romantic ideology. His arguments are examined at some length, often with reference to other prominent German attempts to theorize drama and tragedy in their sociological and aesthetic significance. In the concluding remarks, I analyse Heiner Müller’s self-conscious intertextualism as a response to, and an extension of, Schmitt’s critique of the role of artistic imagination in drama. My ultimate goal is to add to existing knowledge in a three-fold manner: by extending our notion of Carl Schmitt as a theorist of culture and tragedy 2, not least through drawing on previously unknown archival evidence; by adumbrating a fuller picture of Heiner Müller’s interest in, and debt to, Schmitt 3; and by posing the question of the ways in which drama makes sense of myth and negotiates between historical reality and artistic invention, between necessity and contingency. Russian Hamletism deserves attention as what I would call, following Hans Blumenberg’s suggestion, a secondary cultural myth. Empirically, it has been thoroughly studied both in the West and in Russia.4 But not comparatively. Heiner Müller’s range of reference and his own familiarity with Russian and Soviet literature lie beyond any doubt. Suffice it to point to his autobiography, War without Battle (“Krieg ohne Schlacht”), which contains a long list of Russian
Carl Schmitt as a theorist of tragedy remains an inchoate field of inquiry. For two substantial exceptions, see Christoph Menke, “Tragödie und Spiel”, Akzente, 1996, Vol. 43, No. 3, 210–25 and Victoria Kahn, “Hamlet or Hecuba: Carl Schmitt’s Decision”, Representations, 2003, No. 83, 67–96. There have been so far almost no sustained attempts to spell out the significance of Carl Schmitt for Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine. Among the few exceptions, see Alexander Weigel’s brief but insightful essay, “Hamlet oder der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel” (1991), in M. Linzer and P. Ullrich, Regie: Heiner Müller, Berlin: Zentrum für Theaterdokumentation und -information, 1993, 74–7. Michael Ostheimer has drawn on Menke (cf. note 2 above) in his own statement on Schmitt, Heiner Müller and tragedy in “Mythologische Genauigkeit”. Heiner Müllers Poetik und Geschichtsphilosophie der Tragödie, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2002, esp. 12–14 and 161–6 (for an earlier version, see M. Ostheimer, “‘Götter werden dich nicht mehr besuchen’. Zum Europa-Mythos in Heiner Müllers Langgedicht ‘Ajax zum Beispiel’”, in Ian Wallace et al. (eds.), Heiner Müller: Probleme und Perspektiven. Bath-Symposium 1998, Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000, 383– 402). In Russia, the best research in the field has been published by Iurii Levin; in addition to his work referred to above, see also his “Russkii gamletizm”, in Ot romantizma k realizmu. Iz istorii mezhdunarodnykh sviazei russkoi literatury, ed. M. Alekseev, Leningrad: Nauka, 1978, 189–236. The more important works in English are quoted in notes 6 and 10 below; in German, see A. Rothkoegel, Russischer Faust und Hamlet. Zur Subjektivismuskritik und Intertextualität bei I. S. Turgenev, Munich: Otto Sagner, 1998.
In his Berlin years. whose inner life fails to support the outward activities of the self. who were the objects. Turgenev.6 It was the rift between the two that worried Turgenev and plagued his Hamlet in the wellknown speech of 1860. 156–60. Koljazin. Primavesi (eds. The Hague and Paris: Mouton. Stuttgart: J.).“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 335 prose writers. asserting as it did the identity of the unconscious mind of nature and the conscious life of the intellect. don’t ask me or anyone else for my name. Metzler. in H. Turgenev was acquainted. Turgenev had given a Romantic spin to this question. the main character goes unnamed for most of the time. The first is the time-honoured issue of the balance between intellect and emotion. at least until the 1980s. much to the displeasure of some of Turgenev’s critics. thus setting a high standard for a harmony between the two. whose work Müller drew into his own intellectual orbit. was available in the GDR in numerous state-sponsored editions of high print-runs. and through Stankevich he appropriated a Romantically-coloured Hegel. In his famous speech on Hamlet and Don Quixote of 1860. a story from Turgenev’s Sketches from a Hunter’s Album (“Zapiski okhotnika”). he seems to deny to be his own real name. In “Hamlet of the Shchigrov District” (“Gamlet Shchigrovskogo uezda”). or rather its absence. with Bettina von Arnim. moreover. Hamlet and Don Quixote: Turgenev’s Ambivalent Vision.” a rather customary Russian name. Turgenev’s character protests his anonymity: “No. 2003. “But if you earnestly want to give me some kind of title. see V. Schelling’s philosophy. he doesn’t deserve any particular name. 13.5 Russian prose of the nineteenth century. Heiner Müller Handbuch. Cf. notably Turgenev’s. for God’s sake. too. Lehmann and P. There are two crucial points where a meaningful continuity between Heiner Müller’s and nineteenth-century Russian Hamlet interpretations. . then call me … call me Hamlet 5 6 For an overview confined almost exclusively to Müller’s appropriation of Russian and Soviet drama. Let me remain for you an unknown person.-T. he says. only twice being referred to as “Vasilii Vasilich. 1975. in particular that of Dostoevsky. When prompted at the end of the story by the narrator (who is also his confidant) to finally introduce himself. it was meant to offer a package of unassailable humanistic values and high aesthetic standards to complement the works of the German classics exemplified by Goethe and Schiller. Hamlet. as such. Gogol and Chekhov. The second important issue in Turgenev’s Hamlet interpretation is that of existential originality. after all. a Vasilii Vasilich who has been crippled by fate. Tolstoy. and the resulting (in)ability to act. is bound to emerge. was now turned into a simplistic but powerful emblem of a person in discord. of a veritable cult nurtured and protected by the state. Eva Kagan-Kans. which. “Russische Literatur”.” This crisis of naming is caused by the character’s self-perception as an “unoriginal person”. in an ideologically monitored climate. was of vital importance. B.
all further quotations are from this edition. and the only emerging perspective is that of the machine: “My thoughts are wounds in my head. seems to be to the recorder scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He has to reconcile himself to the role of a typewriter that reproduces mechanistically a chaotic version of the lost original. and ed.g. I want to be a machine. and all he could do is enact this life as a performer. 1997.9 But there is also a Russian avant-garde. London: Penguin. avant-garde and pop art. but perhaps you haven’t come across any others […]. R. See H. to which he refers in his autobiography (e. The allusion here. at one with my undivided self ”. Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol). London and Boston: Faber and Faber. Ironically. Held in high regard in the GDR because of its non-orthodox poetics that departed from prescribed realist conventions. trans. unexplained up to now by Heiner Müller’s commentators. 92). nor indeed does he desire such a state. The reason-emotion tension is sublated in a mechanistic existence that obviates the very question of essence and originality. Sketches from a Hunter’s Album. Müller. trans. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann. The Hamletmachine.336 Galin Tihanov of the Shchigrov District. My brain is a scar. in H. had been written for him.”8 Early on in the same part (“Pest in Buda Battle of Greenland”). Fuhrmann. Indicatively. 100. Theatremachine. Lautréamont’s surrealistic definition of the beautiful as “the casual meeting between a sewing machine and an umbrella” is seen by some critics as inspirational for Müller’s preference for the disparate and the inconsequential. prose text that could furnish insight here. but his own twist is recognizably post-romantic. There are many such Hamlets in every district. Müller. Freeborn. and in many ways a surrealist. Turgenev. with page numbers in parentheses in the main text. Arms to grab legs to walk no pain no thinking. in other words. Marc von Henning. H. . The incongruous story of his life knows no state of identity. The organic unity of flesh and intellect is now declared beyond reach. The script was lost” (91–2). Iurii Olesha’s 1927 novel Envy (“Zavist’”) offers an original interpretation of the machine-motif 7 8 9 Both quotations are from I. to be “at one with my undivided self ” seems to him suitable only when “killing time. 93. Crucial in explicating the mechanistic metaphor in Heiner Müller’s play is the context of surrealist. while Heiner Müller’s Hamlet does not mind being a mere typewriter to be typed upon. Warten auf “Geschichte”: Der Dramatiker Heiner Müller. at a considerable distance from the condition of identity with himself. 1988.” (“I go home and kill time.”7 An echo of Turgenev’s Hamletism reverberates strongly in Heiner Müller’s drama. Hamlet’s life. flowing over into a postmodernist resistance to self-identity. 1995. Hamlet there refuses to be “played upon” like an instrument. the Hamlet-performer has formulated the mechanistic terms of his discourse that annul the very debate of originality so central to Turgenev: “I am the typewriter … I am the data bank … My drama did not take place. 209.
New York: New York UP. too. in the final part she chooses to give up organicity.”10 With Ophelia. However. In the concluding Part 5. but Ivan’s Ophelia is actually meant to undermine Makarov’s life without emotions.” 1931) it is a woman. Ivan plans to avenge his era and to produce one last celebration of those human feelings which are “scheduled for liquidation”: pity. Olesha. Although she later signals her desire to break away from mechanistic existence (“I dig the clock that was my heart from out of my breast”). The feminine principle is seen as the proactive one. . on the other. for she recognizes in it another male-dictated stereotype.” where “women should be stitched up” – this “would have spared me myself. but it is controversially projected onto the plane of symbolic matricide. and of unoriginality and mechanicity. has declared his desire to become a machine. 90 (translation modified). Garden City. trans.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 337 and. The second half of Envy features Ivan Babichev’s “conspiracy of feelings” and his fantastic weapon. who plays Hamlet for an audience of workers (in The Hamletmachine. the themes of the parity between reason and emotion. the three great ideologues and practitioners of revolution – Marx. A. tenderness. that he wants to be a woman. In Olesha. Müller’s Ophelia thus embodies the dilemma of modern feminism: how to negotiate a modus vivendi that steers clear from the dangers of both mechanicity and organicity. in a final nightmare (Kavalerov’s). and with him the dream of a world where human emotions thrive beyond peril and challenge. the actress Goncharova. In Part 2 (“Europe of the Woman”) she appears with her heart turned into a clock. Hamlet: A Window on Russia. The ideal young Communist Makarov. the mythical machine Ophelia: “And I’ve given it the name of a girl who went out of her mind with love and despair. it devours its own creator. love. pride. Ophelia turns on Ivan and impales him. the most human. Hamlet sets forth in Part 1 (“Family album”) his vision of a “world without mothers. That Heiner Müller’s Hamlet wants to be like Ophelia.” as he ironically puts it (87). could also be read as a hidden reference to Olesha. also evokes Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In a move all too familiar ever since the Romantics. My brief analysis of Olesha’s work relies on Eleanor Rowe. in whose major play “A list of benefits” (“Spisok blagodeianii. jealousy. have come together in a way Müller could have found suggestive. which are both unmasked as ideologically usurped male-dominated modes of existence. the machine has gone out of control. 1976. NY: Anchor Books. Yet in Heiner Müller’s drama the whole gender issue is treated with more subtlety than in Olesha’s novel. whose title (“Maddening 10 Iu. on the one hand. Envy and Other Works. Lenin and Mao – all appear on stage as women). 1967. in so doing. 137–9. In his drama it is precisely Ophelia who materializes Hamlet’s dream of a machine-like existence. remarkably. I’ve called it Ophelia. as he claims in Part 3 (“Scherzo”). the most touching name. MacAndrew.
or to.. Not by accident does the monologue open with the claim “Here speaks Electra. Herself a virgin. Ophelia holds. For a summary of other textual and historical allusions. and Squeaky Fromme. in H. locality is not any more of overriding importance.338 Galin Tihanov Endurance”) is an explicit reference to Hölderlin11. where ancient Greek tragedy receives pride of place. 316). this modern Hamlet is also a citizen of a globalized world. Kohlhammer. Stuttgart: W. 11 Cf. Müller notes that Ophelia has to do with Ulrike Meinhoff and the problem of terrorism in Europe. Elsewhere in his autobiography. The question of terrorism and political activism is a central one in Müller’s play. death. 2. ed. 131–34. Friedrich Beissner. this reference has been pointed out by Patrick Primavesi. Lehmann and P.” Müller seeks to integrate his own drama into a larger inter-textual continuum.-T. Primavesi (eds. whose resistance to the regime is cast in the compromising forms of complicity: “In the loneliness of airports I breathe freely / I am Privileged / My repulsion is a privilege / Protected by wall. Hamlet is portrayed as a person tired of both action and the failure to act over centuries of European history. Ophelia’s final sentence (“When she walks …”) has been variously related to two female terrorists: Susan Atkins. Between my thighs I strangle the world that I gave birth to. who tried to assassinate President Ford. in Euripides Electra goes to the length of pretending to have a child in order to lure Clytemnestra into her home. Primavesi. He is the failed reformer of socialism. one of the murderers of Sharon Tate. thus extending the original task Hamlet faces in Shakespeare’s play. here 133). uprising. 221–27). with thinly veiled references to the Hungarian uprising of 1956.). in a wheelchair. “Friedrich Hölderlin”. Electra is bound to activate the memory of matricide that flows from Aeschylus. where people bear “the scars from the consumer battle” and hail “Coca Cola” as a supranational commodity. I bury it in my crotch. Hölderlin’s “Wildharrend” in the line “Wildharrend in der furchtbaren Rüstung. among others (P. Barbed-wire prison” (92–3). Heiner Müller Handbuch. . Sophocles and Euripides. contempt. vol. When she walks through your bedrooms with butchers’ knives you will know the truth. a final soliloquy that proclaims this new world without birth and conception. and therefore childless. accidentally and inconsequentially. Down with the happiness of surrender. Jahrtausende” (Hölderlin. For this new Hamlet. but he is also – to some extent autobiographically – the East German intellectual. in which the destruction of motherhood amounts to the vicarious murder of Gertrude. I take back the world I gave birth to. where death awaits her. I discharge all the sperm I ever received. I transform the milk from my breasts into deadly poison. In Heiner Müller’s drama Ophelia is determined to efface the traces of sexuality and motherhood in order to sponsor a vision of the world where the enslaving “happiness of surrender” – female but also all-human surrender – is scorned and left behind: In the name of the victims. In addition. Long live hatred. 1951. He no longer belongs in. Sämtliche Werke. see Jean Jourdheuil’s article “Die Hamletmaschine” (ibid. he only comes from.
. Pan also provides a useful synopsis of Chapters 1 and 2 and a translation of Schmitt’s “Exkurs 2 ‘Über den barbarischen Charakter des Shakespeareschen Dramas. 221–4. can only be understood when Müller’s play is interpreted against the background of another important German appropriation of Shakespeare. zu Walter Benjamin. C. Winstanley. A. Schmitt. Mohler.. Schmitt. however. “The Source of the Tragic. Vol. Schmitt. Schmitt. 62–7 in Schmitt’s German text. The most important part of the book (Chapter 3: “Die Quelle der Tragik”) is available in David Pan’s excellent English translation (C. I quote from David Pan’s translation. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Schmitt. while Political Theology II quoted the title of Schmitt’s eponymous book of 1922. Schmitt’s daughter Anima had translated Lilian Winstanley’s by then almost forgotten historical account Hamlet and the Scottish Succession 14. Schmitt. no. As a matter of fact. Hamlet or Hecuba. 7–25. in all other cases I give my own translations without signalling this specifically. 72. before his death in 1985 he published two more books: Theory of the Partisan (1963). Carl Schmitt’s 1956 book Hamlet or Hecuba. Hamlet Sohn der Maria Stuart. 1995. 15–19. 5. The Burst of Time into the Play (“Hamlet oder Hekuba. Schmitt’s acquaintance with Lilian Winstanley’s studies of Shakespeare apparently dated back to 1950 when he referred to her 1924 book “Othello” as the Tragedy of Italy (C.” Telos. which at the time of its English publication (1921) triggered a lively discussion among scholars. 1987. This was the text of a talk Schmitt gave on 12 June 1956 at a discussion evening in Düsseldorf organized by his publisher.17 Winstan12 13 14 15 16 17 Further on I quote from Schmitt’s book by indicating the relevant pages in parentheses in the main body of the text. Pfullingen: Günther Neske. with notes. 1952. L. “Vorwort. These latter works both built on earlier texts: Theory of the Partisan drew on the political philosophy and the theory of space articulated as early as 1942 in Land and Sea and later on in The Nomos of the Earth. “Hinweis für den deutschen Leser.” ibid. here 224 (“nicht gezielt und kaum geplant”). also known by Müller. Wherever possible.13 Back in 1952. 1996.” ibid.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 339 The extent to which The Hamletmachine has to be read as a political play that examines the questions of what exactly constitutes the engine of change. Schmitt himself wrote the preface to the German translation15. trans. and whether history has not been reduced to a reproductive machine incapable of sustaining the hopes for a radical transformation of society. ed. Berlin 1928’” (pp. and he also furnished a “Note for the German Reader”16. A. C. Briefwechsel mit einem seiner Schüler. 146–51 in Pan’s translation). or so it seemed to many. Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”). by Piet Tommissen in Schmittiana. 133– 46). Der Nomos der . C. where he summarized some of the main positions in the polemic surrounding Winstanley’s book. Ernst Rowohlt Verlag. Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels. appeared out of the blue.12 Schmitt’s book followed in time his major work of 1950. 164–70. the text was republished. “Was habe ich getan?” in C. The Law of the Earth. and Political Theology II (1970). Schmitt. even though in a post-publication talk Schmitt was anxious to have his readers believe that it was “hardly planned” and certainly “not aimed for”. the book had already been in the making for a number of years.
1992. “Hamlet und Jakob. Burwick et al. a pioneer of adult education in Victorian Manchester. 363) and an autographed copy of her book Macbeth. 18213). for he anxiously asked Jünger: “What do you say to a title like this one? It turned out that no one knows any more who Hecuba Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum (1950). Winstanley told him that she read Hamlet or Hecuba three times on receiving it as a gift in early April 1956 (RW 265. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. No. 18216). These were written over some five years. RW 265 No. the grand-daughter of Lord Winstanley. for he found in it support for his core argument. 2). Schmitt tells Jünger that the title of the book led to extensive discussions with the editors at Eugen Diederichs. 116–17 n. King Lear and Contemporary History.20 The importance invested by Schmitt in writing Hamlet or Hecuba can be gathered from a letter to Ernst Jünger of 6 March 1956. Spenser and Shelley. that Lear was an allegory for France.340 Galin Tihanov ley’s book was very important to Schmitt. No. 366).” in Arnim. ed. in Sava Kliˇ kovi´ ’s letter to him c c of 26 March 1956. poetry. 883–9 (I am grateful to Reinhart Koselleck for directing my attention to Arnim’s essay). Schmitt believed that Winstanley’s approach served his own agenda very well indeed19: her research would assist him in theorising tragedy as a genre that relies on non-negotiable historical authenticity.. a literary form that accommodates the salutary intrusion of real historical time. 22/10/1951”. R. die der Gegenüberstellung lebendiger Gestalten eigen ist” (RW 265. The two options are discussed. while Othello stood for Spain and Desdemona for the Republic of Venice.: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag. voices preference for Hamlet oder c c Hekuba: “Der andere Titel hat nicht die Kraft der unmittelbaren Wirkung. between 1951 and 1956. 6. In Schmitt’s Nachlass in Düsseldorf. Eine Anmerkung zum Shakespeare. and several scholarly studies of Shakespeare. 1997. a friend of long standing. where Kliˇ kovi´ . No. Thus she argued that Hamlet actually mirrored the anxieties of Jacob I. Vol. 4th edn. and – on the crest of singularity and genuineness – is best equipped to rise to myth. The admiration was mutual: in her last letter to Schmitt (28 June 1956).18 The author of fiction. obviously on Schmitt’s request. Winstanley (1875–1960). was at the time a Lecturer in English Literature at the University College of Wales. arguing that in Shakespeare’s play the former probably stood for the latter. 18 19 20 21 . Winstanley maintained that Shakespeare’s major plays could all be interpreted with reference to real historical events and figures. 1922 (“Professor Dr Carl Schmitt with the author’s compliments. Aberystwyth. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot. Cf. M. Schriften in 6 Bänden. Without undertaking to weigh the historical evidence. Schmitt initiated the correspondence in September 1951 by offering to send his Nomos der Erde. There are five letters (one of them preserved as an undated fragment) and a postcard by Winstanley in Schmitt’s Nachlass. as is evident from Winstanley’s first letter of 4 October 1951 (RW 265 No. Frankfurt a. Neither Schmitt nor Winstanley seems to have been aware of the fact that as early as 1829 the German Romantic Achim von Arnim had already drawn a suggestive parallel between Hamlet and Jacob I. Achim von Arnim. 7735). there is also a copy (without an inscription by the author) of Winstanley’s 1914 book on Tolstoy (RW 265. perhaps Schmitt was unhappy about the title (the alternative one apparently being Tabu und Rache 21).
1932. couched in precisely the same words. Briefe 1930–1983. No. 46–56. an uneasy synthesis of temporality and myth: “The dangerous that [used to] appear under the signs of the past and the spatially remote now rules the present. however. Schmitt’s “Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel” tacitly invokes and modifies Jünger’s “Der Einbruch elementarer Mächte in den bürgerlichen Raum. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. just as with Schmitt. ed. who has long become a hostage to the ordinary. beherrscht jetzt die Gegenwart. 299. Hans Zehrer. Mircea Eliade. withheld judgement.” the title he gave to sections 13–15 of The Worker. ed. A significant parallel that goes beyond the mere lexical similarity between Schmitt’s title and some of the key phrases in Jünger’s book has so far remained unnoticed in scholarship. the space of the bourgeois. Jünger. “Einbruch” can be seen as another metaphor of the dialectic of discontinuity and transition between ontologically different levels and conditions of life. Mohler. Der Arbeiter. Schmitt. But I wish to suggest that Jünger must have recognized in Schmitt’s title a strong echo from his own earlier texts. which is so emblematically captured in Schiller’s Romantic idea of “suddenness” and “shock” (“Erschütterung”) in the 22 23 24 25 26 Ernst Jünger/Carl Schmitt. 20346) in a list of 44 review copies to be sent out by the publisher and another list of 31 free copies to be presented by Schmitt to influential intellectuals and friends (including. particularly from The Worker. an echo he chose to pass over in silence. is disrupted by the “break-in” of the elementary in the guise of danger and pain. Schmitt’s self-promotion efforts are documented (RW 265.”26 What is more. 1995. Briefwechsel mit einem seiner Schüler. Schmitt wrote again: “In my last card to you I asked you for advice on the title Hamlet or Hecuba. It seems to have burst into the present from primeval times and from the expanse of space […]. Es scheint aus uralten Zeiten und aus der Weite der Räume in sie eingebrochen zu sein […]” (Der Arbeiter. Rolf Schroers. my translation). gained at the expense of trauma and an enforced re-ordering of reality. 55. Nothing can be changed any longer. Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt. Ernst Jünger/Carl Schmitt. Adolf Frisé).“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 341 was?”22 Jünger. Hans Freyer. Erich Przywara. Kiesel. something Jünger had apparently failed to do. H. The Burst of Time into the Play. Briefe 1930–1983.24 His failure to engage in discussion over Schmitt’s title may well have resulted from sheer negligence. among others. E. Schmitt had already expressed the same concern. and three weeks later. A. 295.) In Jünger’s discourse. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. “Das Gefährliche. 214). C. in a letter to Armin Mohler of 13 February 1956 (cf. 1999. Lucien Goldmann. This process is couched in terms that incorporate. both Jünger and Schmitt charged “Einbruch” with the semantics of a Romantic rupture of the everyday framework of life in favour of authenticity. das unter den Zeichen der Vergangenheit und der Ferne erschien. on 26 March 1956.”23 Schmitt’s concern lest the title of the book prevented it from reaching out to a wider audience was to be taken very seriously. the economically-rational and the banal.25 (It has to be conceded that in his earlier Political Theology (1922) Schmitt himself had already glorified the power of life to break through the crust of mechanical existence in the hour of exception. .
Weimar: Böhlau. the German sociologist and political thinker. associated drama with the decline of a (ruling) class. among other books. Drama. Kommerell. see Karl Heinz Bohrer. Benseler. and the forms of history and society. 21087 (Hegel. as well as texts on tragedy and drama by Hegel. Plötzlichkeit: Zum Augenblick des ästhetischen Scheins. F. and Krauss). Nationalausgabe. Max Kommerell’s Lessing und Aristoteles. ed. through “upheaval. “Über das Erhabene. the sublime furnishes an abrupt and forceful exit from the world of material sensations where “the beautiful would always have kept us with pleasure”. Benjamin.”30 Fritz Sternberg. Thinking of drama was a way of analysing the trends of social evolution and the fortunes of class. which he self-consciously positioned among nineteenth. on the one hand. in his monumental History of the Development of Modern Drama. Darmstadt. 21: Philosophische Schriften. 21088 (Jean Paul). to Franz Rosenzweig’s sections on tragedy in The Star of Redemption. Schmitt was following a well-trodden path. 25.and twentieth-century German debates on drama. . 20345 (Lukács). an influential study of imperi- 27 28 29 30 On the semantics of “shock” and “suddenness” in Ernst Jünger and the avant-garde. who wrote. F. Whence this special interest in drama? Twentieth-century debates on drama in Germany evolved under the sign of sociology and philosophy of history.27 According to Schiller. the moment when its worldview no longer goes unquestioned and tragic defeat is near. Lukács. G.” in Schillers Werke. 45–6. a perfect drama can only be tragedy. Bd.” it liberates us from the limitations of sensation and transplants us into a sphere beyond the grasp of reason. 20295 (Grillparzer).” Gervinus’s Shakespeare. Three examples would do: Lukács. Cf. Neuwied: Luchterhand. Frankfurt a. 1981. “reaches its peak always in tragedy. Entwicklungsgeschichte des modernen Dramas . from 1951 onwards. While working on Hamlet or Hecuba. Grillparzer’s “Notizen über Shakespeare. M. on the other.” Friedrich Gundolf ’s Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist. In this respect. he concluded. Schmitt’s notes in his Nachlass: RW 265. drama. or to Benjamin’s Trauerspiel book. Nos. Werner Krauss’s Corneille als politischer Dichter.28 Schmitt’s book is a rigorously argued philosophy of drama and history. and Benjamin. 2. Lukács. Teil.: Suhrkamp. Schiller.342 Galin Tihanov work of the sublime. 1963. 20313 (Gervinus and Gundolf). 1981. Cf. but also in the years following its publication. which became a major reference point for Schmitt. Schmitt read and made excerpts from several representative texts of German drama theory and criticism: Jean Paul’s “Ueber die dramatische Poesie. and poetry) with a view to establishing some verifiable correspondences between the forms of artistic creativity. Suffice it to point to Georg Lukács’s The Theory of the Novel and “The Metaphysics of Tragedy” (the latter mentioned in passing by Schmitt).29 Modern genre theory in Germany has been consistently marked by attempts to study the three major genres of literature (epic.
a history lived through by. Sternberg. Brecht was familiar with this study (cf.e. 1993. Gehlen. On Sternberg. 1926.: Campus Verlag. after him. (Schmitt here shares a long-established tenet of German drama theory. Frankfurt a. Göttingen: Sachse & Pohl.” in Philosophische Schriften II (1933–1938). but with political implications that would be used by the Nazis for their own purposes. Jaspers. Papcke. Gesamtausgabe. Sternberg interpreted this as a historical necessity. See A. Frankfurt a. republished as an appendix to Sternberg’s Brecht memoirs. 58–64. Gustav Steinbömer argued in his 1932 book State and Drama (“Staat und Drama”) that the evolution of drama reflects historically evolving relations between the private and the public. according to which drama has to be (en)acted – not read – and has therefore to rest on common knowledge. Schmitt argues. Berlin: Malik Verlag. Munich: Piper and Co. M.” Berliner Börsen-Courier. or already known to.33 Modern drama.34) Thus for a community to emerge in the Renaissance theatre. i. 199–215. is usually first published as a work of literature. Sternberg. 915–960. note 2). a common historical experience had to be shared by both the actors and the viewers (37). 219 (12 May 1927). and values. Deutsche Soziologie im Exil. 209–211. see S.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 343 alism31 and from whom Brecht learned a lot during the early months of his conversion to Marxism.: Klostermann. can enjoy the support of preliminary knowledge of the text. Gegenwartsdiagnose und Epochenkritik. however. in that the audience did not normally acquaint itself in advance with a printed text. Schmitt takes a hermeneutical approach here. which sets him apart from other contemporary approaches to drama. Drama is important for him in so far as the performance exemplifies the coming into existence of a community made up of the actors and the audience. Far from being a mere historical contingency. Von der Wahreit. esp. norms. and only then performed. 1947. Band 2. 65).. Sternberg’s memoirs of Brecht published in the year of Sternberg’s death: F. A strong exponent of this view was Hegel in his Aesthetics and. here 63. M. The differences between Jaspers and Schmitt seem to me more significant than the similarities suggested by V. Shakespeare’s drama. Der Imperialismus. in which the individual is eventually subordinated to the public institutions. a consequence of the gradual ousting of the individual by “collective forces” in the period following World War I. notably Karl Jasper’s interpretation of tragedy in the framework of his philosophy of truth. See K. 1933–1945. 1963. . Playwrights can orientate their writing in two different fashions: towards a 31 32 33 34 F. submitted that drama itself was in decline. no. 1980. while watching the play. but not as his primary focus of attention. See F. Arnold Gehlen in his 1934 essay “Die Struktur der Tragödie”. everyone present had to make its way into the play before the meaning of the play could be shared and understood by the spectators’ community. 38–58. Kahn (cf. Sternberg’s open letter to Brecht “Der Niedergang des Dramas. Schmitt does retain this largely sociological interest. Der Dichter und die Ratio: Erinnerungen an Bertolt Brecht..32 In a similar vein. This means that the audience. “Die Struktur der Tragödie. worked differently (and to a better effect).
and that was its advantage over later work for the stage (e. Hamlet Sohn der Maria Stuart. Here enters Schmitt’s crucial distinction.g. forty years later Schmitt again warns against Romantic subjectivism and occasionalism. is only the reverse side of his being chained to his audience’s knowledge of history and current events. is actually a free and sovereign artistic creator. not all genres are equally open to and receptive of history. 12. nor are they equally dependent on it. Schmitt. Stefan George. therefore. their own framework of conditional (fictional) reality that makes sure that the text can also be read by subsequent generations that no longer share the experience and the knowledge of the original audience. or towards a future audience that comes to know history only in the form of more or less abstract knowledge (“für die Nachwelt”). .35 Shakespeare’s drama was one for the Mitwelt. and so is the relation of the poem to the poet’s experience (Erlebnis) when compared to the relation of drama to its mythical or historical resources. knowledge of this experience thus becomes for everyone else “confusing rather than redemptive” (35: “eher verwirrend als erlösend”). Theatre is after all about “play” (“Spiel”). a conditio sine qua non of its existence. Schiller’s dramas. is an inalienable element of drama. unlike all other forms of drama. Winstanley. whom Schmitt here calls “one of our greatest and most form-conscious poets” is all but quoted verbatim as saying that poetry reshapes experience to an extent where it becomes meaningless for the poet. Within drama. Going back to his vehement rejection of Romantic ideology in Political Romanticism (1919). which means that all dramatic genres establish their own theatrical time and space. “Vorwort. Schmitt thus starts by distinguishing the literary sources of drama (e. being at liberty to deal in whatever fashion he pleases with the literary material he draws on. Shakespeare’s frivolous manipulation of his literary sources. Thus a misconception arose that the playwright. He avers that this distinction was not always made with due consistency. Play. however. Schmitt submits. This may well be true of poetry. rather than for a fellowship of spectators with immediate grasp of their common past and present). The origins of the disproportionate belief in the poet’s creative freedom are seen by Schmitt in the Storm and Stress movement of the eighteenth century. The audience and the need for common knowledge to be mobilized in the performance set a limit to the playwright’s creativity. the Nachwelt. Shakespeare’s use of Plutarch in Julius Caesar) from the actual historical resources that enable actors and viewers to invoke shared experience and knowledge.g. while preserving the mode of playability also has an irreducible core of 35 The distinction is made in C. especially modern poetry. written as they were – according to Schmitt – for posterity. but it is utterly false as a way of explaining drama. Yet a poem is rather different from drama.344 Galin Tihanov contemporary community of spectators sharing the same historical experience (“für die Mitwelt”). Schmitt insists.” in L. and in the dominant role ascribed to poetry in the ideology of modernity. Tragedy.
” reaching the conclusion that tragedy may be distinguished from mourning play precisely “through the different ways they relate to historical time. “verbauen. Cambridge. “Zum Phänomen des Tragischen. “Zum Phänomen des Tragischen. sought to clarify the conditions under which “historical time passes over into tragic time. belongs to the non-negotiable conditions for the unfolding of the tragic: “In a world without space tragedies would [still] be possible. 3.” 154 (“In einer raumlosen Welt wären Tragödien möglich. Benjamin seems to have been more indebted to Scheler than he would let on. had argued in his 1914–15 essay On the phenomenon of the tragic that – because it is the product of a dynamic relationship between values that changes in a particular (inevitably catastrophic) direction – the tragic “always appears within the sphere of a motion of values” (“erscheint in der Sphäre der Wertbewegung”). as is the case in “verfilmen. M. Cf.” often by gambling.” As a verb. but not in a timeless world. The volume contains two more texts of 1916 that served as drafts towards the Trauerspiel book and also remained unpublished in Benjamin’s lifetime. Benjamin. J.” “Unverspielbarkeit” (42). whose opposition to the inductive approach in aesthetics was an inspiration for Benjamin’s Trauerspiel book37. M. to squander away. in which this motion takes place. the prefix “ver-” also suggests the possibility of distortion. characterized by both “depth” and “boundlessness” (“Unabsehbarkeit”) and “flowing over beyond the event into. my translation). 149–69. as in. Jennings. The young Benjamin. which in the wake of this intrusion assumes a dual ontological status that combines the playability of any drama with the “unplayability” (Unverspielbarkeit) reserved exclusively for tragedy. 1.: Harvard University Press. in a text written in 1916 which served as preparatory material towards the Trauerspiel book (the text remained unpublished in his lifetime). Benjamin. London: New Left Books. my translation). 1996.” Gesammelte Werke. W. . Mass. 55–6. Bern and Munich: Francke Verlag. and therefore time. here 157–8. it suggests that the nucleus of historical authenticity characteristic of tragedy cannot be turned en36 37 38 W. cf. ed. Scheler.”38 Schmitt radicalizes this thesis by turning time from a passive condition into an active force enabling tragedy to emerge. trans. Historical time bursts into the time of the play. Vol. Vol. Osborne. say. in einer zeitlosen nicht”. “Trauerspiel and Tragedy. Bullock and M. Max Scheler. is much more than “unplayability”. to waste. an indefinite width without horizon” (“Die Trauer fließt so über das Ereignis hinaus in eine gleichsam horizontlose unbestimmte Weite”.”36 Furthermore. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Scheler. 1977. M. 38–9. “verspielen” means “to lose. That time and temporality were forces shaping the nature of the tragic was not Schmitt’s discovery. but through the prefix “ver-” it could also convey the meaning of converting something into something else by using a different medium of expression. then.” in Selected Writings. It is very difficult to render adequately the entire range of potential meanings accommodated by the German “Unverspielbarkeit.” Finally.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 345 authenticity supplied by history. as it were. his interpretation of melancholy appears to be consonant with Scheler’s observations about the “specific sadness of the tragic” (“[D]ie spezifische Traurigkeit des Tragischen”). 1972.
106). Geburtstag. become incompatible. “Eine sonderbare Beziehung: Carl Schmitt und Erich Kaufmann. History itself is the framing agency with regard to tragedy. “Schillers Drama ist Trauerspiel und hat den Mythos nicht erreicht” (49). Schmitt’s suspicion of the principle of play and his appeal for seriousness commensurate with the conflict between friend and enemy. cannot be framed by invention. History. then. Tragedy. whose theory of the play-drive (“Spieltrieb”). After the meeting he was approached by Hanns Eisler who advised him that if he wanted to be safe in the GDR he should follow Schiller’s example: “[A]n Austrian tyrant gets murdered in Switzerland. i. Thus invention (“Erfindung”) and tragic action (“Geschehen”). but in a more resolute and perhaps straightforward way. 80–81). which argued that culture originates in. 122.346 Galin Tihanov tirely into a play. the target of discontent here.41 Schiller’s historical dramas. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Konstanz: UVK Universitätsverlag. Thus tragedy rests on an unassailable authenticity underwritten by either myth or a shared and immediate experience of history (often at its most dramatically-exceptional).. expounded in the Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. esp. for these are two markedly different regimes of authenticity. see H. And so can that of historical drama. is different from other dramatic genres. where Schiller’s historical drama is described as “closer to the form of the Trauerspiel” rather than to that of tragedy (Benjamin’s example is Die Braut von Messina). Benjamin. it has not risen to the level of myth. 39 40 41 42 Schmitt borrowed the reference to Wackernagel from Benjamin (cf. including the Trauerspiel. 71–87.” in Bürgersinn und staatliche Macht in Antike und Gegenwart. Festschrift für Wolfgang Schuller zum 65. but there cannot be a tragedy within tragedy. both of which fall beyond the scope of the playwright’s power of invention. This is the kind of play you . was misread by Schmitt as resembling the Romantic “lack of earnestness” which tries to dissolve the seriousness and authenticity of tragic life in the allegedly “higher order” of artistic play. and subsists on. The tragic situation cannot be invented or made up. cannot get lost or distorted in the play. W. 21) the suitability of Wackernagel’s words as an endorsement of Benjamin’s theory. I cannot resist relating at this point an amusing story that speaks volumes about the challenged reputation of Schiller’s historical dramas at the time. just as for Benjamin. Schmitt concludes. In 1961. for Schmitt as much as for Benjamin. led to criticism in the 1930s by Johan Huizinga. in other words. It is possible to have a play within the play. as in Benjamin’s treatise40. Quaritsch. Heiner Müller was about to be excluded from the GDR Writers’ Union for his “ideologically unacceptable” drama “The Resettler” (Die Umsiedlerin). stops where play begins (42). some five years after Schmitt wrote Hamlet or Hecuba. in Wackernagel’s words. play (for more on Huizinga’s critique of Schmitt. W. is Schiller. 2000.e.39 Tragedy. Cf. on which politics rests. Unsurprisingly. but rather on the distant Bildungswissen of history. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. which relies not on an immediately co-experienced knowledge of history and reality. and the presence – or rather the burst – of historical time in it removes the contingencies of invention. Benjamin. but he tried to question in a lengthy note (72–3 n. fail to rise to tragedy and cultural myth: “Schiller’s drama is Trauerspiel.”42 As one can see. repeated here by Schmitt (51). knowledge of history acquired through education. that of the Trauerspiel can. not least in his book Homo Ludens.
he was doing so in a way that was thrusting him back into the bedrock of Romantic ideology. Eliot’s sardonic words. Leben in zwei Diktaturen.” and he also endorsed the idea of ontologically different layers of reality.” all in a post-romantic key that recognizes the existence of ontologically different layers and modes of life.44 And yet Schmitt’s Hamlet book speaks forcefully the language (Adorno would have preferred “jargon”) of authenticity.43 The Hamlet book was seen by him as breaking the customary practice of understanding art as an autonomous aesthetic realm. Schmitt quotes Eliot’s words in the 1952 “Foreword”. Cologne: Kiepenheuer und Witsch.” 19). 43 44 . Admittedly. in T.” where Schmitt regards Schiller’s dramas as being written “for posterity” (“für die Nachwelt”). but he was eventually dissatisfied with the importance accorded to play in Schiller’s account of what makes one human. 97). that in his 1952 “Vorwort. It has to be noted. S. Berlin: Rotbuch. for Goethe Hamlet became a Werther. It is tragedy. “Vorwort. also Müller’s own description of Wilhelm Tell as “the drama of liberation” in 1989 (H. is to Wilhelm Tell. 1992. Ever since his 1919 work Political Romanticism. so prominent in Schiller’s treatise on the sublime. he nevertheless concedes that even they (at the hands of gifted critics such as Max Kommerell) could acquire the status of myth-generating art (Schmitt. Schmitt had been anxious to leave behind what he believed to be the compromising softness of Romantic philosophy. whose rift can no longer be healed except in the rare bursts and epiphanic appearances of authenticity. though. and confine. would be a resounding refutation of the Romantic interpretative method. but in the same breath (in a typically post-romantic move) he restores the notion and the norm of irrepeatability and uniqueness with regard to the historical situation. the realm of play. that is called upon to be the guardian and exponent of should be writing in Germany” (the reference. “Was habe ich getan?. He hoped that Winstanley’s and his own reading of Hamlet. and “unplayability. just as for Lukács and Rosenzweig. Schmitt. 1990.” 223.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 347 Schmitt’s stance with respect to Schiller’s aesthetics was rather complicated: Schmitt partook of the Romantic fascination with “upheaval.” “suddenness. as well as the myth-generating power of the solitary hero at the moment of decision. He believed that his Hamlet book was a return to a history-based discussion of art where dialectical materialism had established an unhealthy monopoly. Zur Lage der Nation. whose unchecked psychologism meant that. 178). Krieg ohne Schlacht. singularity. the story can be found in Heiner Müller’s autobiography: H. Müller. Schmitt takes the power of imagination away from the artist (in a move critical of Romantic aesthetics). of course. based as it was on the recognition of the force of history to burst into. Müller.” and “burst. Schmitt’s yearning for authenticity constituted a return to the Romantic discourse of originality and genuineness. 23. and for Coleridge – Coleridge himself. its submission to occasionalism and subjectivism. cf. What matters here most is the realization of the fact that even when Schmitt opposed Schiller’s praise of play and playfulness. Cf.
2002. er hat zuviel gehockt. and mere “debate” in attic tragedy 47).45 The state of exception46.” a piece of unremarkable poetic quality that conveys the staple view of Hamlet as an over-hesitant intellectual: “Das macht. the glorification of the sea over the land mass. 75–93. C. Briefwechsel mit einem seiner Schüler. M. 2002. Lübbe. Schmitt borrowed the phrase “Deutschland ist Hamlet” from the opening line of Ferdinand Freiligrath’s 1844 poem “Hamlet.” in Romantiˇna pesnitev c / The Romantic Poem. Ljubljana: Ljubljana University. Löbbermann (eds. Rosenzweig. proper speech. the singularity of historical events.” in D. / er lag und las zuviel im Bett. W. Juvan. F. Franz Rosenzweig had drawn a characteristically anti-climactic comparison between silence. Schmitt insists that drama is better placed than the novel to capture. Moreover. On the state of exception as a Romantic relic in Schmitt’s political philosophy I concur with a number of other scholars (Hofmann. it is the saving grace of myth that should take care of the latter. […] Drum fehlt ihm die Entschlossenheit. Other Modernisms in an Age of Globalisation. Schmitt. ed.348 Galin Tihanov authenticity in Schmitt’s reworking of the Romantic ideal. / kommt . Schmitt. Winter. Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press. 1985. But unlike Lukács and Rosenzweig. the hopes attached to the lonely figure of the partisan and his irregular combat – all these motifs participate in a fascinating drama of ideas. “Vorwort.). C. or in the face. His own somewhat cryptic interpretation of Hamlet in a letter to Armin Mohler of 15 July 1956 suggests that Shakespeare’s hero symbolized to him Germany on the threshold of the 1848 revolution (“1848: Deutschland ist Hamlet”)49 and Europe (or at least European intelligent45 46 47 48 49 I have written on other aspects of Schmitt’s “post-romantic syndrome” in “Carl Schmitt and Theodor Däubler: The Geopolitical Afterlife of the Post-Romantic Epic. weil das Blut ihm stockt. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Thus Hamlet or Hecuba seems to be indicative of Schmitt’s entire career as a thinker: it reproduces his syndrome of trying to flee the Romantic agenda and finding himself over and over again replicating and having to modify it in a time when the answers of the Romantics would not do. there (and four years later in his own book) he interprets Hamlet as the drama of a king who destroys the “sacred substance” of his kingdom through too much thinking (“zerdenkt”) and talking (“zerredet”).48 It then becomes logical that Schmitt should have wanted to assert the heroic effort of decision and action. Kadir and D. Bredekamp).” 17. of groundbreaking historical events. the revolt against the indecision of the “chattering classes” (in The Star of Redemption. Hallo. 220. and remain closer to. trans. The Star of Redemption. by extending the meaning of Hamlet to embody the tragic vacillation and indecisiveness on the eve. see also my article “Regimes of Modernity at the Dawn of Globalisation: Carl Schmitt and Alexandre Kojève. 77. / zu kurz von Atem und zu fett. 609–24. the veneration of the historically singular and authentic. which he found to be the centerpiece of Shakespeare’s drama. where the repressed Romantic ideology makes its inexorable return. Schmitt is more concerned to assert authenticity with regard to history and the past than to life as such. / Er wurde. Thus in his 1952 foreword to the German translation of Winstanley’s book.
50 What is more. Werke in einem Band. 220). No amount of effort could arrest and convey the singularity of the past moment. probably meaning to suggest that the plague of indecision in dealing with the past and facing one’s own future has progressed to affect not just Germany and Europe but the whole array of Western democracies. this approach could lead to what Schmitt disparagingly terms “Offenbachiade. 138–57. on this see Werner Habicht’s richly informative article “Shakespeare and Theatre Politics in the Third Reich. something that resembles the ease and fleeting merriness of operetta. Paris: P. in a different context.” Schmittiana. Ilberg. 50 51 . he also added.e. A reference to Freiligrath’s poem. ed. writing in 1958. Briefwechsel mit einem seiner Schüler.51 Thus the inescapability of decision and action. W. / hält Monologe lang und breit. 110–120. 1987.. on the other. 73–5. 54. 1989. Schmitt sees in the “unplayability” of the tragic a feature that also determines the options available to the stage director. see the chapter “Hamlet et l’Allemagne” in I. In a late archival note of March 1975. 12. No.. / und bringt in Verse seinen Groll. The Play out of Context: Transferring Plays from Culture to Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. also appears in Hamlet oder Hekuba. “1958: Die Westliche Welt ist Hamlet” (C. and the ideal of authenticity. on the one hand. among others. So there is nothing wrong with playing Hamlet in a tailcoat. but concedes identification with Hamlet (“Bin ja selbst ein Stück von dir”). 1996. cf. But this should be no more than a necessary prevention of naive and misconceived “historicism” (“Historismus”). Briefwechsel mit einem seiner Schüler. If pushed too far. the following sentence: “1900: Wir (Protestanten) sind alle Hamlets” (RW 265. 1967. Freiligrath. The reference is to Paul Valéry and is unpacked by Piet Tommissen in his republication of “Was habe ich getan?. a myth expounded by Gerhart Hauptmann and Friedrich Gundolf. No matter what we do. On the wider context. which it then elevates to myth – as Hamlet supposedly does – means that there is no point in trying to dress the actors in period costumes and stage a museum-like performance.). we can never attain the same significance of the historical situation that glued together through shared experience actors and audience. Schmitt. somewhat puzzlingly given his Catholic background. It is quite possible that the invocation of Offenbach was not free from a renewed criticism of Karl Kraus. 5. Schmitt.” i.U. Vol.” in Hannah Scolnicov and Peter Holland (eds. converge for Schmitt in the “unplayability” that makes the essence of tragedy (and of political life). The uniqueness and singularity of a shared historical situation as the formative moment of tragedy.F. Omesco. Hamlet ou la tentation du possible. C.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 349 sia) in the traumatic years of World War I (“1918: Europa ist Hamlet”). Schmitt’s identification of Hamlet and Germany was a confirmation sui generis of the lasting German cultural myth of Shakespeare as a poet whose work’s true home is Germany rather than England. 15 n. Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag. 220. F. an admirer of Offenbach (as attested in Benjamin’s essay “Karl Kraus reads Offenbach”) and Zeit. Schmitt saw 1968 as a more suitable date for the symbolic identity of the Western world with Hamlet.” Freiligrath ends by appealing to the heroism of decision (“Nur ein Entschluß”). 19862). Schmitt projects the Hamlet symbol onto the immediate future of the entire Western world. kommt Rat – er stellt sich toll.
ed. With specific reference to Hamlet or Hecuba. RW 265. M. Kalb. conceived as early as the 1950s but not completed before 1977. 72. 29–30. along with texts by Norbert Elias. which Müller prepared in 1976–77. The Theater of Heiner Müller. D. Werke. 5–18. Geistergespräch zwischen Walter Benjamin und Carl Schmitt über Ästhetik und Politik. J. In Sachen Carl Schmitt. Berlin: Merve Verlag. 1998. 1990. Tommissen. no. 2. M. Paul Virilio56. vol. 127–36.” Telos. Schmitt’s copy (ending on p. G. Frankfurt/M. Vienna: Karolinger. 12). were it not for its crucial impact on Heiner Müller. 2001. only to get embroiled in accusations of plagiarism soon afterwards. “romantic-metaphysical” period. 247–266.52 Important as it might be in its own terms. was one of the most prominent admirers of Schmitt on the literary Left (Benjamin. Berlin: Verlag Vorwerk 8. Frankfurt a. and the articles listed in Bredekamp’s extensive footnotes. Mattern et al. 2000.: Peter Lang. Müllers Graben. Leipzig: Philipp Reclam Jr. 1999. Operetta and musical. “Zeit und Spiel. cf. 108 and 210–11. 22. given to him as a present by Günter Maschke on 9 February 1982. Augustine’s Confessions. F. Vol. even though his fascination with Schmitt in The Origin of German Tragic Drama came at the close of his. ed. Stuttgart: Metzler. Gefährliche Beziehungen: Walter Benjamin und Carl Schmitt. 472–6. many of them voicing his approval (cf. being the most prominent of all. certainly not at such length. along with Alfred Andersch and Rolf Schroers. Stephen Hawking’s A Short History of Time. an old and ailing Schmitt had read the German translation of one of Virilio’s basic texts (Geschwindigkeit und Politik. Vol. 1989. Pan. 592–4. Frei52 53 54 55 56 Cf. Müller quotes the subtitle of Schmitt’s book again in his 1992 text “Beschreibung einer Lektüre” (cf. Müller.” in Heiner Müller – Rückblicke. and Nikolaus Müller-Schöll. Texte und Kommentare. 78–89. “Political Aesthetics: Carl Schmitt on Hamlet. For Benjamin’s complex appropriation of Schmitt. G. with their determination to suspend the monopoly of seriousness and originality. 1987. Das Theater des “konstruktiven Defaitismus”.: Stroemfeld. Schulz. 2002. see J.53 Müller. passim. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot. this episode in German intellectual history would not have busied us here. 1995. ed.” Diacritics. the debris – indicatively – of a 200-page translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. of course.. and the editorial notes in H. Zu Carl Schmitts fundamentalistischer Kritik der Zeit. Samuel Weber. Berlin: Rotbuch. see Horst Bredekamp’s excellent article “From Walter Benjamin to Carl Schmitt. Hörnigk.350 Galin Tihanov the target of a parody Schmitt contributed anonymously to Franz Blei’s 1920 Bestiarium of German literature.. 153–9. Festschrift für Stéphane Mosès. his brief text of 1988 “Shakespeare eine Differenz. No. Schmidt. 25. via Thomas Hobbes. Müller knew Hamlet or Hecuba 55 and used it. On the textual history of Hamletmachine. Der Katechon.” Critical Inquiry. 1994. and John Donne. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 390). No. . “Taking Exception to Decision: Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt. in George Steiner’s words. 1992. bring us to postmodernism and back to Müller’s Die Hamlet-Maschine. esp. 4. Perspektiven. “Kein altes Blatt. see also the book-length study by Susanne Heil.” in Jüdisches Denken in einer Welt ohne Gott. Meuter. Müller. 1996. Theo Buck and Jean-Marie Valentin. Cf.” where the name of Carl Schmitt appears next to Müller’s statement (itself a reference to Schmitt) “Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel konstituiert den Mythos” (Heiner Müller Material. F. and Chr.: Suhrkamp. Frankfurt a. 118) contains copious marginal notes. See also H. 106). esp. ed. Zur Lage der Nation. 1977). just before his affiliation with Marxism54). Interestingly. 22. Hörnigk. 1997.
” Theater Heute. A fragment of the text referred to by Morel also appears. W. 272 (“war ein Schlüsseltext für mich”).” in Brecht après la chute. enmity and fratricide from Schmitt’s Ex captivitate salus (1950)61. “Die Tragödie des Terrors. 2000.62 In his autobiography War without Battle. Müller. 71–2). Paris: L’Arche.” in Ian Wallace et al. For a recent comparison of Jünger and Müller and a critical evaluation of the literature on them.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 351 ligrath’s “Hamlet. Krieg ohne Schlacht. 25 and 84. of Schmitt’s Hamlet or Hecuba into French (1992). Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi.” in Heiner Müller – Rückblicke. Morel. Masken der Lebensrevolution. See G. J.” as a text assisting the actors (“Schauspielermaterial”) in comprehending the idea of time in the play when the Deutsches Theater staged The Hamletmachine in 1990 in Berlin. Heiner Müller – letzter Poet der Klassenschlacht. Bath-Symposium 1998. 1992. “Out of joint: Die Revolutionen in Der Auftrag. Müller was also versed in Schmitt’s later Theory of the Partisan 58. in Müller’s Anatomie Titus Fall of Rome. Berlin: Rotbuch. “Zwischen Monolog und Chor. “[I]m Sinne von Carl Schmitt” (Krieg ohne Schlacht. .” in Heiner Müller. Herzinger.” Gottfried Benn’s “Gewisse Lebensabende. ed. Berlin. 2003. ConTEXTS and History. Zur Lage der Nation. 11–26. It is also worth noting that Jean Jourdheuil. On the Schmittian destruction of the idea of brotherhood in another play by Müller. using words alluding to a passage in the same book (cf. Fischer. G. which he considered a “key text”59. Weitin. also 314. 126 n. Freiburg: Rombach Verlag.und Humanismuskritik in Texten Heiner Müllers. 33– 44. Horst Domdey has suggested that Müller’s essay “New York oder das eiserne Gesicht der Freiheit” contains traces of Schmitt’s Theory of the Partisan (H. (eds. Domdey. The Battle (“Die Schlacht”). which documents the production history. in a rather similar version. ed. H.-P. Munich: Wilhelm Fink. See R. later became the co-translator. claiming to have explored in Volokolamsk Highway (Wolokolamsker Chaussee) such a situation “in Carl Schmitt’s sense”. see Th. with Jean-Louis Besson. 347). Vitalistische Zivilisations. Perspektiven. 45. which was never performed in the GDR and was only staged in Berlin in 1991. “The Author as Battlefield: Heiner Müller’s Autobiography War Without Battle. Notwendige Gewalt: Die Moderne Ernst Jüngers und Heiner Müllers. he was also acquainted with Schmitt’s concept of the Katechon and with the main ideas of the latter’s texts on leadership. Heiner Müller: Probleme und Perspektiven. 1995. Müller. see also Müller’s contribution to the 1990 discussion “L’état d’urgence chez Carl Schmitt et La décision chez Bertolt Brecht. and was familiar with Schmitt’s central notion of the state of exception. the first-ever director to stage Müller’s Hamletmachine. Müller included in the programme notes a lengthy passage on brotherhood.57 In addition to Hamlet or Hecuba. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.” Kavafis’s poem “King Claudius.). Storch. Heiner Müller elevated Schmitt – along with Ernst Jünger 64 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 See folder D 677a in the Heiner Müller-Nachlass in the Stiftung Archiv der Akademie der Künste. the title for which he borrowed from Ludwig Renn’s 1957 eponymous novel63. 104). 7. 1993. Cf. Jahresheft 1991.” and Müller’s own essay “Shakespeare eine Differenz. cf. see Hans-Thies Lehmann.60 When directing his own drama Mauser (1970). one of the protagonists of Müller’s 1979 drama The Task (Der Auftrag). Ein Shakespeare-Kommentar. the Volk and the Nazi movement written in the 1930s. Gemünden. Zur Dramaturgie Heiner Müllers. 1990. 236 n. here 20. and JeanPierre Morel has made a case for Sasportas.
The texture of Hamletmachine. Vol. 276–89. The Silence of Entropy or Universal Discourse: The Postmodernist Poetics of Heiner Müller. a modernist who worked in a post office” (“19 Answers by Heiner Müller. 1979. he replied half-curtly. 3812. Gespräch mit Heiner Müller. S.). 73–85. he was demonstrably distrustful of the very concept of postmodernism. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. . H. Artaud. in 1987 he even undertook research in the Schmitt archive during a stay in Düsseldorf 65 and spoke. 3. Taubeneck.. 1986. Gellert et al. and some of Müller’s own 65 66 67 68 Cf. Müller’s stance with respect to postmodernism deserves attention beyond the scope of this article. 184– 92. his address at the 1978 MLA Convention in New York. Heiner Müller oder das Prinzip Zweifel. Frankfurt a.66 What is more. S. Teraoka. also the numerous brief mentions of Carl Schmitt in Heiner Müller’s estate in the Archive of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (nos. “Deconstructing the GDR: Heiner Müller and Postmodern Cultural Politics.” Frankfurter Rundschau. 26. 4942. M. no. “Jetzt sind eher die infernalischen Aspekte bei Benjamin wichtig. Vol. Aber ein Sturm weht vom Paradiese her. also with relation to Hamletmachine. “Post-Modernism and the Multi-Media Sensibility: Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine and the Art of Robert Wilson”.” in M.g. Praxis. Manfred Lauermann has witnessed Müller’s enquiries about Schmitt with the Schmitt expert Günter Maschke (M.352 Galin Tihanov and Brecht – to the status of a cult figure.68 Thus it should come as no surprise that the very language of the play demonstrates Müller’s disinterest in authenticity. Gesammelte Irrtümer. 1991. 1. Lauermann. A. 4936. Marx. Weber. Dostoevsky.: Verlag der Autoren. ed. Cf. here 362. Wilke. notably Herakles 5 (1964) and Philoktet (1958/64). 138. Perspektive. At times. half-jokingly: “The only Postmodernist I know of was August Stramm. 1992. 1984. 5061. Warhol. no. is deliberately intertextual. Modern Drama. 4802. Pasternak. Müller’s reactions to Herzinger in Gesammelte Irrtümer. “Politische Theologie des Klassenkampfs. 1985. 201. a few years later. 3. Jan-Christoph Hauschild. 55–7. nos. C. of a “Carl-Schmitt Renaissance”. Kontroverse. Eine Biographie. see R. 3. 1992.” Paragraph. or paraphrases of Benjamin. however. “The Role of Art in a Dialectic of Modernism and Postmodernism: The Theatre of Heiner Müller. 1988.67 But instead of asserting Schmitt’s defense of authenticity.” Pacific Coast Philology. cf. Berlin: Theater der Zeit. Heiner Müllers Antiwestlertum und die Neue Rechte. 25). in an interview granted in 1983 Heiner Müller repeated Schmitt’s statement about the impossibility of inventing tragic constellations in drama. no. 348–62.” Sprache und Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht. Vol. 510. On Müller and postmodernism. Hölderlin. I. see.” in Hamletmachine and other texts for the stage. Vol. Müller. Vol. 31. Opitz and E. Bertolt Brecht/Hanns Eislers Lehrstück “Die Massnahme”. On Müller and the political Right after the Wende. 5195). Müller construes the impossibility of invention as an appeal for a postmodern extension of intertextuality. with quotations from T. 1998. even more than that of Müller’s previous dramas. 1993. Berlin: AufbauVerlag. Frankfurt: Verlag der Autoren. when asked what constitutes postmodernism in literature. 16. Vol. ed. 137). Müller mentions his acquaintance with Maschke and comments on him in “Die Küste der Barbaren. 1–2. “Reflections on Post-Modernism. 4817. 1994. 2. thinly disguised references to. and Cummings. Wizisla (eds. S. “Geisterbeschwörungen im deutschen Augenblick. 193. Texte zu Walter Benjamin.” in Massnehmen. 168–71). 2001. Zurbrugg.” New German Critique. 3. 25 September 1992 (reprinted in Gesammelte Irrtümer. Herzinger. 58 n. Leipzig: Reclam. Die Lektüre von Brechts Die Massnahme durch Carl Schmitt – ein soziologischer Versuch. Eliot. N. see e. 439–53. New York: Peter Lang.
Hamburger.” in Heiner Müller – Rückblicke.72 69 70 71 72 Cf. The Resettler. modified and played on. 128. e.” German Life and Letters. Müller goes further to claim that they have always already been no more than just taken up. whom he did not trust to know who she was. D. he thus radicalizes Schmitt’s thesis of the limits of artistic invention in drama to question the very possibility of an authentic tragic situation. I wish to thank Vladimir Biti and David Quint. “Some notes on the difficulties of operating Heiner Müller’s ‘Die Hamletmaschine’. 1995. Just like the text. I am also grateful to Prof. and disillusioned. Müller denies the status of myth and heroism not just to Hamlet. which no longer determine the fate of the characters. For the wider context. For many a contemporary critic in the West. but also to all protagonists of German and Central-European history alluded to in the play. Vol. “Are You a Party in this Business? Consolidation and Subversion in East German Shakespeare Productions. 48.70 Hamletmachine thus displays the workings of a worn-out machine of history and text-production in a situation where the power of myth is exhausted and the order of causality is broken and given up. While Schmitt sees in Hamlet the last mythical figure of our time.“Der Einbruch der Zeit in das Spiel”: Hamlet from Berlin (East) 353 plays (Cement. Perspektiven. see M. the very notion of dramatic personae is radically destabilized. as well as their colleagues. Vol. in the GDR. Jean-Louis Besson.71 History was no longer called upon to break in solemnly into the time of the play. this amounted to opposing the inertia and hypocrisy of political life in East Germany in the late 1970s. 171–84. but remains ideally placed to nurture one’s curiosity as to how contingency and necessity are generically framed and negotiated in art. Twenty years after the crushing of the Budapest resurrection and some ten years after the short-lived Prague Spring. Becker for allowing me access to the Schmitt Nachlass in Düsseldorf. Die Hamletmaschine was perceived to be a sign of ideological confusion and creative fatigue on the part of its author.g. Barnett. but rather by feeding into the play fragments of past and present (often deliberately discrepant)69 events. an artistic form that in his recasting can provide neither comfort nor existential solutions. the hope of change appeared to Müller to be no more material than was Hecuba to the invisible cohort of Schmitt’s readers. history no longer operates by producing singular and unique events.” Shakespeare Survey. Research towards this article was supported through an AHRB research leave and a Research Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. . for the very notion of time had now become stagnant. 75–85. The Construction). “Hellsicht und Undurchsichtigkeit im Werke Heiner Müllers. Dr. While seeking justification in Schmitt’s thesis that tragic conflicts and situations cannot be invented. An earlier version of this article was presented at the ICLA Committee on Literary Theory Colloquium in Dubrovnik and as a lecture in the Department of Comparative Literature at Yale University. Indeed. messy. Cf. Thus Müller asserts the irreducible heterology of history in drama. 1995. 48. for the hospitality and the ensuing discussions.
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