Botho Strauss Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Botho Strauss is a major German writer whose contributions to drama and fiction are equally important. Indeed, Strauss seems to alternate between writing both genres. His prose texts have a reflective quality; and some of them, especially Der junge Mann (1984; The Young Man, 1989), belong to the core of German postmodern writing.

Strauss has also written essays, ranging from his early theater reviews to political statements. Even the latter show Strauss’s aesthetic and elitist approach to dealing with issues. Most controversial was “Anschwellender Bocksgesang,” published in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (February 8, 1993), in which he analyzed contemporary democracy as self-satisfied and unable to make the changes necessary for its survival. To many people, this seemed close in word and spirit to the dangerous German conservatism of the 1920’s. However, in the post-Cold War 1990’s, the dichotomies of political left and right were somewhat elusive, and Strauss’s analysis still could be understood in keeping with his earlier, more progressive views.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

The talent of Botho Strauss was recognized early on when he was awarded a prestigious scholarship to live in Rome at the Villa Massimo (1976). Among his many other awards, the Georg Büchner Prize (1989) carries the most recognition. Strauss is a very private person who shies away from public appearances and did not attend the award ceremony for this prize but instead had somebody else read his acceptance speech.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Calandra, Denis. New German Dramatists: A Study of Peter Handke, Franz Xaver Kroetz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Heiner Müller, Thomas Brasch, Thomas Bernhard, and Botho Strauss. New York: Grove Press, 1983. Includes a section on Strauss’s plays of the 1970’s with emphasis on characters and themes (isolation, relationships, shifting identities). Also discusses specific stage productions, especially premieres.

McGowan, Moray. “Past, Present, and Future: Myth in Three West German Dramas of the 1980’s.” German Life and Letters 43, no. 3 (April, 1990): 267-279. Looks at the growing interest in myth during the 1980’s and places Strauss’s use of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in the context of other playwrights adapting Arthurian and Germanic myths. None of the authors uses myth as an escape from reality.

Stoehr, Ingo R. German Literature of the Twentieth Century: From Aestheticism to Postmodernism. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2001. Provides a broad survey of twentieth century German literature with brief sections on plays and novels by Strauss that allow the reader to see Strauss’s contribution to literature.