Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

Turn of the Century Vienna
In the 1890s, the dominant mood in von Hofmannsthal’s hometown of Vienna, the capital of the great...

(The entire section is 910 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

There are a few recurring images or motifs in the play that vividly bring out its themes. The first set of images...

(The entire section is 1073 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Aeschylus, Oresteia, translated and with an introduction by Richmond Lattimore, University of Chicago Press,...

(The entire section is 443 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Del Mar, Norman. Richard Strauss: A Critical Commentary on His Life and Works. 3 vols. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1962. Includes a highly readable account of Hofmannsthal’s play and its transformation into an opera.

Hamburger, Michael. Hofmannsthal: Three Essays. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972. An excellent introduction to Hofmannsthal’s poems, plays, and libretti for English-speaking readers.

Hamburger, Michael. A Proliferation of Prophets: Essays on German Writers from Nietzsche to Brecht. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1983. Contains a highly readable essay tracing Hofmannsthal’s poetic and artistic development, with advice for readers new to his work on how to approach his poetry. An excellent section on Electra.

Hammelmann, Hanns, and Ewald Osers, trans. A Working Friendship: The Correspondence Between Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. New York: Random House, 1961. Contains the twenty-one letters exchanged between Hofmannsthal and Strauss concerning the preparation of the libretto of Electra. Essential.

Puffett, Derrick, ed. Richard Strauss: “Elektra.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989. A collection of eight essays from renowned scholars to examine in depth all aspects of the opera based on Hofmannsthal’s drama.

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

1900s: In Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg develops a new approach to composing classical music. He turns away from traditional harmony and...

(The entire section is 393 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Read Sophocles’ Electra and describe some of the similarities and differences between that play and von Hofmannsthal’s version....

(The entire section is 205 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

Von Hofmannsthal’s The Cavalier of the Rose (1912) is the English translation of his libretto for Strauss’s famous comic opera,...

(The entire section is 232 words.)