Karl Georg BÃ¼chner (17 October 1813 â" 19 February 1837) was a German dramatist and writer of poetry and prose, considered part of the Young Germany movement. He was also a revolutionary, a natural scientist, and the brother of physician and philosopher Ludwig BÃ¼chner. His literary achievements, though few in number, are generally held in great esteem in Germany and it is widely believed that, had it not been for his early death, he might have joined such central German literary figures as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller at the summit of their profession.
Life and career
Born in Goddelau (now part of Riedstadt) in the Grand Duchy of Hesse as the son of a physician, BÃ¼chner attended a humanistic secondary school that focused on modern languages (including French, Italian and English).
In 1828, he became interested in politics and joined a circle of William Shakespeare aficionados which later on probably became the GieÃen and Darmstadt section of the "Gesellschaft fÃ¼r Menschenrechte" (Society for Human Rights).
In 1831, at age 18, he began to study medicine in Strasbourg. In Strasbourg, he immersed himself in French literature and political thought. He was influenced by the utopian communist theories of FranÃ§ois-NoÃ«l Babeuf and Claude Henri de Saint-Simon. In 1833 he moved to GieÃen and continued his studies at the University of Giessen.
While BÃ¼chner continued his studies in GieÃen, he established a secret society dedicated to the revolutionary cause. In July 1834, with the help of evangelical theologian Friedrich Ludwig Weidig, he published the leaflet Der Hessische Landbote, a revolutionary pamphlet critical of social injustice in the Grand Duchy of Hesse. The authorities charged them with treason and issued a warrant for their arrest. Weidig was arrested, tortured and later died in prison in Darmstadt; BÃ¼chner managed to flee across the border to Strasbourg where he wrote most of his literary work and translated two French plays by Victor Hugo, LucrÃ¨ce Borgia and Marie Tudor. Two years later, his medical dissertation, "MÃ©moire sur le SystÃ¨me Nerveux du Barbeaux (Cyprinus barbus L.)" was published in Paris and Strasbourg. In October 1836, after receiving his M.D. and being appointed by the University of ZÃ¼rich as a lecturer in anatomy, BÃ¼chner relocated to ZÃ¼rich where he spent his final months writing and teaching until his death from typhus at the age of twenty-three.
His first play, Dantons Tod (Danton's Death), about the French revolution, was published in 1835, followed by Lenz (first partly published in Karl Gutzkow's and Wienberg's Deutsche Revue, which was quickly banned). Lenz is a novella based on the life of the Sturm und Drang poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz. In 1836 his second play, Leonce and Lena, satirized the nobility. His unfinished and most famous play, Woyzeck, was notable because its main characters were all from the working class. It exists only in fragments and was published posthumously.
By the 1870s, BÃ¼chner was nearly forgotten in Germany when Karl Emil Franzos edited his works; these later became a major influence on the naturalist and expressionist movements. Arnold Zweig described Lenz, BÃ¼chner's only work of prose fiction, as "the beginning of modern European prose".
The play Woyzeck became the basis for many adaptations including Alban Berg's landmark atonal opera Wozzeck which premiered in 1925, and Werner Herzog's 1979 film Woyzeck (see main article, Woyzeck, for a full list).
The most important literary prize in Germany, the Georg BÃ¼chner Prize, is awarded annually. It was created in 1923.
- The Hessian Courier, 1834 â" in cooperation with Friedrich Ludwig Weidig (Flugschrift)
- Danton's Death, 1835 (Drama)
- Lenz, 1835 (Short story)
- Leonce and Lena, 1836 (Comedy)
- Woyzeck, 1837 (Drama â" fragment)
- Pietro Aretino, his drama about Pietro Aretino, has been lost.
- Lucretia Borgia, 1835 (Of the play by Victor Hugo)
- Maria Tudor, 1835 (Of the play by Victor Hugo)
- Georg BÃ¼chner, Werke und Briefe. MÃ¼nchner Ausgabe (dtv, 1997). ISBN 3-423-12374-5.
- Red Yucca - German Poetry in Translation (trans. Eric Plattner)
- Georg BÃ¼chner, Complete Plays and Prose, trans. Carl Richard Mueller (Hill and Wang, 1963)
- Georg BÃ¼chner, The Complete Plays: Danton's Death; Leonce and Lena; Woyzeck; Lenz; the Hessian Messenger; on Cranial Nerves; Selected Letters trans. John Reddick (Penguin Classics, 1993) ISBN 0-14-044586-2.
- Georg BÃ¼chner, Danton's Death, Leonce and Lena and Woyzeck, trans. Victor Price, (Oxford World's Classics, 1998). ISBN 0-19-283650-1.
- Heiner Boehncke, Peter Brunner, Hans Sarkowicz. Die BÃ¼chners oder der Wunsch, die Welt zu verÃ¤ndern. SocietÃ¤ts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2008.
- Works by Georg BÃ¼chner at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Georg BÃ¼chner at Internet Archive
- Works by Georg BÃ¼chner at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Series on life of Georg BÃ¼chner, by Sybille Fuchs, reviewing Georg BÃ¼chner: Revolutionary with pen and scalpel, an exhibition from 13 October 2013 to 16 February 2014 at the Darmstadium Conference Centre, Darmstadt: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
- BÃ¼chner's birthplace