Carl Zuckmayer Zuckmayer, Carl

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Zuckmayer, Carl 1896–1977

Zuckmayer was a German dramatist, novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and poet. He began his dramatic career as an expressionist; however, after two undistinguished plays he turned to realism. It is for his realistic dramas, which show a close affinity to the work of his friend and mentor Gerhart Hauptmann, that Zuckmayer is best known. His most successful works are generally, like The Merry Vineyard, comedies which draw upon German folk traditions; or, like The Captain from Köpenick and The Devil's General, satires on the militarism of Nazi Germany. He also wrote the German screenplay for The Blue Angel. During his career Zuckmayer received many of Germany's most prestigious literary awards: the Kleist Prize, the Georg Büchner Prize, the Goethe Prize, and the Heinrich Heine Prize. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 69-72.)

Diether H. Haenicke

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Carl Zuckmayer] ironically was dismissed from his post as dramatic producer of the theater at Kiel because of his "complete incompetence as an artist." Following his dismissal, he wrote a comedy in the dialect of his home district on the Rhine entitled Der fröhliche Weinberg (The Gay Vineyards, 1925) for which he received the highly esteemed Kleist prize. He has since published numerous plays including the well known The Captain of Köpenick (1930). Zuckmayer's immediate success hinged heavily on his realistic and down-to-earth characters. He thus broke with the tradition of the extremely stylized characters often found on the stage of late Expressionism. Although not a renovator of the theater, Zuckmayer surely stands among the most effective creators of stage drama. (p. 369)

[In] The Devil's General, Zuckmayer's sensitivity and insight enabled him to create a genuine and convincing picture of the mood reigning within Germany without having lived there himself during the last Nazi years. The play centers around a strong character, General Harras of the German air force. He openly despises the Nazi regime and continually scoffs at their twisted Weltanschauung. The play presents the last days of the hero, who is constantly observed by the SS. A feeling of threat and dread, caused by the eternal presence, secret or actual, of the all-powerful authorities of the state pervades the play. In the midst of a group of fascinating personalities Zuckmayer places Harras, a person in conflict. His human qualities make him the ideal of many younger officers who serve the regime only because Harras remains their general. Thus, in his desire to exclude politics from his life Harras serves the purpose of the "devil" through his non-commitment. Despite the power of his engaging personality Harras remains as controversial a character as the sabotaging engineer-officer who purposely disables the planes which the pilots, often his personal friends, take into the air. At the end of the drama, the two men are placed in irreconcilable opposition. The saboteur battles against the all-consuming violence of the criminal regime but must employ violence himself and become the murderer of his comrades. The general, bound by his oath, fulfills the duties of the soldier, and his example involuntarily lends support to the ruling powers.

After the war, the play caused heated discussion about the attitude of the military during the war. Zuckmayer did not make accusations, as did many of the returning emigrants. Instead he tried to present the very difficult and frustrating situation of those who remained in the Reich. (pp. 369-70)

Diether H. Haenicke, "Literature since 1933," in The Challenge of German Literature, edited by Horst S. Daemmrich and Diether H. Haenicke (reprinted by permission of the Wayne State University Press; © 1971 by Wayne State University Press), Wayne State University Press, 1971, pp. 350-404.∗


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Both Brecht's direct influence and the general vogue of anarchy and lawlessness—which were associated with America—were the potent ingredients which left their mark on Pankraz Awakens. (p. 84)

[For In the Jungle ]...

(The entire section is 4,421 words.)