Wallenstein: A Dramatic Poem [book]

Friedrich Schiller, Flora Kimmich
2017 unpublished
Schiller first encountered the figure of Wallenstein as a subject during his work on his History of the Thirty Years' War, published in 1792. There, it was a question of pitting King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden against his main rival, Albrecht Wallenstein, duke of Friedland. According to Schiller's scheme at the time, this involved contrasting the figures of the king, an "idealist" but not unmoved by political motives, with Wallenstein, the "realist," power-hungry and following these aims
more » ... tically. Yet in the course of work on his History, Schiller developed a more nuanced view of Wallenstein, still unscrupulous and a victim of his own overweening ambition, but invested nevertheless with more admirable human qualities, such as generosity, always towering above his contemporaries as a figure in history. The idea of treating this subject in dramatic form dates from as early as 1791, with work beginning in 1793. By 1796, he could confess to Goethe that the sheer mass of material was forcing him to think beyond the confines of conventional tragedy. His philosophical studies, and his close contact with Goethe, enabled him to envisage a subject that was rooted in the here and now-"realistic"-but which gained formal dignity through the ideal constraints of art. In this way, Schiller was able to create a tragic character, in moral terms blameworthy, but from whom paradoxically we cannot withhold our admiration. 1 This Introduction is largely based on my 'Schiller, Wallenstein,' in Peter Hutchinson (ed.), Landmarks in German Drama (Bern, 2002), pp. 47-57 (by kind permission of the publisher, Peter Lang).
doi:10.11647/obp.0101 fatcat:no5agxlxm5fsbiaoqjyhizikzm