Volker Braun Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Volker Braun is as well known for his work as a lyric poet as he is for his plays. He made his literary debut in 1965 with the collection of poetry titled Provokation für mich (1965; provocation for me), and in spite of his steady involvement in the theater, he has kept active as a poet throughout his career, publishing his work at regular intervals. Among the best-known volumes of his poetry are the collections Wir und nicht sie (1970; we and not they), Gegen die symmetrische Welt (1974; against the symmetrical world), and Training des aufrechten Gangs (1978; training of the upright posture). Numerous poems by Braun have appeared in English translation in major anthologies devoted to contemporary German poetry. He wrote some of his most remarkable poetry after German reunification in 1990, when he expressed his sense of loss of identity and apprehensiveness about the future without any false nostalgia.

Although his literary reputation is in large part based on his work as a poet and dramatist, Braun has published important prose fiction as well. The three “reports” in Das ungezwungene Leben Kasts (1972, 1979; the unconstrained life of Kast) are based on his experiences as a construction worker, a student, and a beginning playwright, respectively. A fourth story, focusing on the leadership role of the writer-intellectual in a socialist society and corresponding to Braun’s own increased prominence in the...

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Volker Braun Achievements

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

When Volker Braun’s first plays were published and performed in the early 1970’s, he was hailed in both the East and the West as the most promising young talent among the dramatists of his generation. He became one of East Germany’s leading dramatists and a principal heir to and adapter of the Brechtian theatrical tradition in East Germany. One indication of Braun’s stature as a playwright is the positive reception given his work in West Germany, where seven of his plays were published and three appeared in the repertory of major stages. Among East German dramatists, only Braun and his colleagues Peter Hacks and Heiner Müller have managed in the long term to find an audience for their work in both German states—an accomplishment made the more remarkable when one considers the political-ideological context in which inter-German cultural exchange took place. Since the early 1970’s, Braun’s international reputation as both a poet and a dramatist has grown steadily and has led to a following for his work outside German-speaking Europe, most notably in France, Italy, England, and the United States.

Although Braun had no direct contact with Brecht or with his historic productions at the Berliner Ensemble in the 1950’s, Braun’s plays clearly show the influence of Brecht and the theatrical tradition that he began. More than the work of any of his East German contemporaries, Braun’s drama represents a continuation of Brecht’s tradition, which he adapts to and for the situation of the socialist state in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Although Brecht’s drama focused on the dialectic...

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Volker Braun Bibliography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)


Costabile, Carol Anne Theresa. Intertextual Exile: Volker Braun’s Dramatic Re-vision of GDR Society. New York: Olms, 1997. Assessment of Volker Braun’s works and his retrospective of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) after German reunification in 1990.

Huettich, H. G. Theater in a Planned Society: Contemporary Drama in the German Democratic Republic in Its Historical, Political, and Cultural Context. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978. Study of the role of theater and drama in the GDR through the 1970’s, including the works by Braun.

Jucker, Rolf, ed. Volker Braun. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1995. Criticism and analysis of Braun’s works. Bibliography and index.

Rosellini, Jay. Volker Braun. Munich: Kritik, 1983. Introduction to Braun’s life and work through the early 1980’s. In German.

Vanovitch, Katherine. “Volker Braun.” In Female Roles in East German Drama, 1949-1977: A Selective History of Drama in the G.D.R. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1982. Survey article on the female roles in Braun’s plays.