In addition to her plays, Marieluise Fleisser wrote a novel and more than thirty short stories as well as literary essays and autobiographical articles. Most of these writings are included in volumes 2 and 3 of the Gesammelte Werke (1972), edited by Günther Rühle. The only omission of consequence is a key essay on the dramatist Heinrich von Kleist, reprinted in Schriftsteller über Kleist (1976; writers on Kleist), edited by Peter Goldammer.
Until five years before her death in 1974, Marieluise Fleisser was considered to be a minor writer of the Weimar Republic, worthy of honorable mention in a footnote embellishing the biography of Bertolt Brecht, probably the most formidable German dramatist and director of the twentieth century. From 1924 until her break with him in 1929, Fleisser succumbed totally to the spell cast by his genius and served, off and on, as his lover, his confidante, and his collaborator. Brecht directed her second play, Pioniere in Ingolstadt (combat engineers in Ingolstadt), in such a way as to precipitate Germany’s biggest theatrical scandal between the wars and to secure for both Fleisser and himself a prominent place in the history of literary censorship. The ensuing furor over the play was the first clear indication Germans were given of the ugly policy toward culture that the Nazis would institute when they came to power. Pioniere in Ingolstadt also holds the distinction of being the only drama authored by someone other than Brecht to have played an important part in the development of the epic theater. Apart from the depiction of a character based on Brecht in Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Erfolg (1930; Success, 1930), the only literary portrait of him during the Weimar period is in Fleisser’s third play, Der Tiefseefisch (the deep-sea fish), an ironic exposé of Brecht’s working techniques, including the crafty manipulation of his assistants. Both this play and Fleisser’s heavily autobiographical story “Avantgarde” (1963; “Avant-Garde”) remain the sole critical accounts of the private side of Brecht by a member of his inner circle and anticipate the more detailed revelations in the biographical studies of Klaus Völker (Bertolt Brecht: Eine Biographie, 1976) and James K. Lyon (Brecht in America, 1980).
In her last years, Fleisser was able to move out from under Brecht’s shadow and become one of the most celebrated writers of the 1970’s in Germany. There were three reasons for this. In the late 1960’s, a number of young Bavarian playwrights began taking an unsparing look at life in the provinces against the background of a highly industrialized and capitalized West Germany. They took as their model two rather obscure dramatists of the late Weimar period, the Austrian-HungarianÖdön von Horváth and Fleisser, who were credited with the simultaneous independent...
(The entire section is 998 words.)
Hoffmeister, Donna L. The Theater of Confinement: Language and Survival in the Milieu Plays of Marieluise Fleisser and Franz Xaver Kroetz. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1983. Hoffmeister compares and contrasts the dramatic works of Fleisser and Franz Xaver Kroetz. She pays special attention to the language used by the two authors.
Joeres, Ruth-Ellen B. “Records of Survival: The Autobiographical Writings of Marieluise Fleisser and Marie Luise Kaschnitz.” In Faith of a (Woman) Writer, edited by Alice Kessler-Harris Joeres and William McBrien. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988. This essay examines the autobiographical tendencies exhibited by Fleisser and Marie Luise Kaschnitz in their writings.
Kord, Susanne. “Fading Out: Invisible Women in Marieluise Fleisser’s Early Dramas.” In Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies and German Culture, edited by Jeanette Clausen and Helen Cafferty. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1989. An examination of the role of women in Fleisser’s early plays.
Ley, Ralph. “Beyond 1984: Provocation and Prognosis in Marieluise Fleisser’s Purgatory in Ingolstadt.” Modern Drama 31 (September, 1988): 340-351. Ley examines the political overtones in Fleisser’s Purgatory in Ingolstadt.
Ley, Ralph. “Liberation from Brecht: Marieluise Fleisser in Her Own Right.” Modern Language Studies 16 (Spring, 1986): 54-61. Ley discusses the relationship between Bertolt Brecht and Fleisser and her writing when separated from Brecht.
Ley, Ralph. “Outsidership and Irredemption in the Twentieth Century: Marieluise Fleisser’s Play Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt.” University of Dayton Review 19 (Summer, 1988): 3-41. Ley looks at the role of the outsider, a role that Fleisser would later play, in her drama Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt.