Saturday, January 2, 2010

Closing Thoughts: Woyzeck

# of pages: 31
Pages read so far: 4,947
Books read so far: 13
Avg # of pages/book: 380.54

Told ya this one would bring my average way back down ;-)

A very quick read, Woyzeck is a play by German playwright Georg Buchner. The most interesting thing (to me) about this play is Buchner didn't actually finish it before he died (he apparently died about a week before he'd planned to have it done) and he didn't leave a detailed outline for how it was all supposed to go together, so editors and translators have been piecing this script together as they think Buchner intended from four drafts and some notes since 1837. While one draft appeared to be his "final" draft, it left out large parts that were in other earlier versions of the play. Buchner apparently intended to re-insert these other scenes into this latest draft before sending it off to print, but I suppose we'll never know for sure.

That said, there are actually many different versions of this play and, while they'll all tell the same basic stories, some include scenes that others do not, and some have scenes in different places from others.

Make sense? Good.

This version was the one translated by Victor Price.

Anyway, the play is good. It's one of those stories about the dehumanizing affects of this and that on the middle class. ("This," in this case, being doctors, and "that" being the military) The play is actually based on a true story of a soldier/wigmaker whose lover cheats on him (shoulda married her, buddy), and then he kills her in a jealous rage. The man's then arrested, tried, and beheaded publicly. This version of that story (or at least, this version of this version of this story) ends before the arrest, with Woyzeck wading deeper and deeper into a lake to try to scrub the blood from his skin. (Shades of "Out, damned spot!") It's a pretty cool ending, actually.

And that's pretty much Woyzeck. There's not a lot to it story-wise or dialogue-wise, but it's a good, dark "middle-class tragedy" script. Seems like the sort of script you could do a lot of different things with, and it's been adapted into operas, movies, plays, and puppet shows in the hundred-and-seventy years since it originally came out, so that's got to say something.

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