Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Hauptmann, Gerhart

(1862-1946) German dramatist and prose-writer, winner of the 1912 Nobel Prize for Literature. His first plays, beginning with Vor Sonnenaufgang (1889 trans L Bloomfield 1909 US), were uneasily naturalistic, but by the time of Hanneles Himmelfahrt (1893; trans William Archer as Hannele: A Dream Poem 1894 UK) he had begun to move into Expressionist realms of fantasy interest. In the second act of this play, though the child Hannele may not be literally dead, a Posthumous-Fantasy atmosphere powerfully imbues her description of Heaven, from where she reports. Die Versunkene Glocke (1896; trans Charles Henry Meltzer as The Sunken Bell 1898 UK), Michael Kramer (1900) and Und Pippa tanzt (1906; trans as And Pippa Dances 1907 UK) continue in this mode; and to contemporary audiences can seem vacuous. But Der Bogen des Odysseus (1914; trans as The Bow of Odysseus 1917 US) offers a less dreamy portrait of Odysseus.

His novels move closer to explicit fantasy. In Der Narr in Christo Emanuel Quint (1910; trans Thomas Seltzer as The Fool in Christ, Emanuel Quint 1911 US) the protagonist re-enacts Christ's life and woes in a narrative with an unmistakable aura of the Twice-Told. Atlantis (1912; trans Adele and Thomas Seltzer 1912 US) transforms an Atlantic liner into a Ship of Fools. Phantom (1923; trans Bayard Quincey Morgan 1923 US) treats a criminal's confession as manifesting supernatural Bondage, for the fantasies which drive him come from elsewhere. Die Insel der grossen Mutter, oder Das Wunder von Ile des Dames: Eine Geschichte aus dem Utopischen Archipelagus (1924; trans Willa and Edwin Muir as The Island of the Great Mother: The Miracle of the Île des Dames: A Tale from the Utopian Archipelago 1925 US) is sf, even though the shipwrecked worshippers of the Goddess attribute a continual flow of children to Her, rather than to the young men with whom they make love. Till Eulenspiegel (1928), in epic-verse form, takes its Trickster hero, in this incarnation disillusioned by World War I, on a kind of Grand Tour of European myth and fantasy, granting him conversations with figures like Amfortas and allowing him centuries of Sex and discourse in a version of ancient Greece. A further untranslated epic, the Atriden-Tetralogie ["The Atrides Tetralogy"] play cycle – Iphigenie in Delphi (1941), Iphigenie in Aulis (1944), Agamemnons Tod (1948) and Elektra (1948) – takes a grim view of the gods. [JC]

Gerhart Hauptmann


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.