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Von Hofmannsthal’s play takes place in seventeenth century Poland. Learn more about the history of Poland. What significant events and changes took place in Poland in the seventeenth century? What about the eighteenth to twentieth centuries? What recent events have occurred in Polish history?

Von Hofmannsthal was born and lived in the city of Vienna, the capital and cultural center of Austria, around the turn of the century. Learn more about Viennese culture in the fin-de-siecle era. What changes have taken place in Vienna over the course of the twentieth century?

Von Hofmannsthal lived and worked in Vienna over the same time period in which Sigmund Freud became prominent as the father of modern psychology. Learn more about the life and work of Freud. What were some of his major theories about human psychology and childhood development? What impact has Freud had on Western thought?

Von Hofmannsthal’s maternal grandfather converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism in order to marry a Catholic. While von Hofmannsthal grew up in a family fully assimilated into mainstream Viennese culture, the Jewish population of Austria was subjected to virulent forms of racism. Learn more about the history and status of Jews in Austria during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. What is the status of Jews in Austria today?

Von Hofmannsthal gained an international reputation for his collaboration with Richard Strauss writing librettos for the opera. Learn more about the history of German opera. Who are some of the significant figures in German opera? What were some of the key German operatic productions during the turn of the century?

Von Hofmannsthal was known as a leading figure in the German symbolist movement. The symbolist movement originated among artists and writers in France around the turn of the century. Learn more about symbolism in art. Who are some of the most significant artists of the symbolist movement? What are some of the central artistic works of the symbolist movement? What basic aesthetic principles were practiced by the symbolists?

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