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Lenz (1836)

by Georg Büchner

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281677,140 (3.8)5
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Vosges mountains, Lenz tells the tale of the real-life writer J.M.R. Lenz's nineteen-day stay in Waldersbach in 1778, describing his wanderings around the mountainous surroundings and his worsening fits of madness, eventually culminating in his removal, under guard, to Strasbourg.Valued both as a chilling exploration of paranoid schizophrenia and an influential forerunner of literary modernism, this existential drama boasts a prose style startlingly ahead of its time.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
In my earlier Danton review I already praised Georg Büchner’s masterful precocity. Deceased at 24, he still managed to write three and a half masterpieces: Dantons Tod, Leonce und Lena, Woyzeck and the unfinished Lenz. The works are considered landmarks in the history of German literature, early precursors of the Modern European roman. They were praised by Zweig, set to music by Alban Berg and burned on celluloid by no one less than Herzog.

I found an older copy of Lenz on the second-hand book market and without hesitation took it home for a quick read. And quick it was! Only 35 pages, but so fast-paced, so modern, so obsessively written that it leaves the reader panting: the story of Jacob Lenz (1751-1792), poet and theater-maker, one of the key representatives of the Sturm und Drang, slipping into insanity.

Poor Lenz, delicate and small, the flipside of the Goethe persona, as good a writer as the famous “Wandrer” was, maybe even better, but lacking the stature, the charisma, the social intelligence and the romantic skills. When Lenz became insufferable and a danger to Goethe’s reputation and position, the Master got rid of him. Lenz was banned from the province after a mysterious incident, an unforgivable “foolishness” that happened on the 26 of November 1776.

Büchner’s novel make us follow the interdicted Lenz; his erratic wandering, his despair, his hopeless seeking of solace, his battling bouts of depression, his final tumble into a terrifying madness from which there is no return…

What a nightmare… ( )
3 vote Macumbeira | Sep 2, 2019 |
Büchners Erzählung Lenz ist in dieser sorgfältig zusammengestellten Ausgabe des Insel Verlags (insel taschenbuch 429) dokumentarisch ergänzt mit Oberlins Aufzeichnungen über den Dichter J.M.R. Lenz, den er im Januar und Februar 1778 bei sich aufnahm - auf diesen gründet sich Büchner -, dann mit ausgewählten Briefen von Lenz, mit Zeittafeln zu Lenz (1751-1792) und Oberlin (1740-1826), seit 1767 Pfarrer im Elsaß, und endlich noch mit einem Nachwort versehen.

Büchner soll ein oder zwei Jahre vor seinem frühen Tode 1837 in Zürich an der Erzählung gearbeitet haben; sie wurde posthum 1839 veröffentlicht; nach einem Freund Büchners soll sie Fragment geblieben sein, was aber umstritten ist; mir erscheint sie vollendet.

Was für ein Künstler, Büchner! Etwas erinnert diese Erzählung mich an Kafka, fast jedoch ziehe ich ihre Glut sogar Kafka vor. (XII-17) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Dec 29, 2017 |
Pena&commozione :-((
Basato su una storia vera (anche se sembra impossibile impazzire di Romanticismo). ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
An early example of the blending of fiction and non-fiction in this novelization of German playwright Jakob Lenz. Focusing only on a short period of Lenz's life, it shows his slow descent into madness, but notably leaves out all other context in terms of what led up to any of this, and what happens afterwards. The effect is strange, though I can't put it into words why. The prose is very interesting also. There is a quality to it, where the kind of depression Lenz was going through seeps down into the descriptions (even though it is narrated in third person). It's very subtle, but it seems like these landscapes should be somehow more energetic, more colorful than they are described here. Or maybe that's not it... Maybe they are beautiful, but there is a certain distance in the voice, as if to say "what is it to me if it's beautiful?" Maybe that isn't it either, but I liked this je ne sais quoi-lity of the prose a lot.One has to love mankind in order to penetrate into the unique existence of each being, nobody can be too humble, too ugly, only then can you understand them; the most insignificant face makes a deeper impression than the mere sensation of beauty and one can allow the figures to emerge without copying anything into them from the outside where no life, no muscle, no pulse surges or swells. p. 33Overall though, I admired the book more than I was truly thrilled by it. This beautiful Archipalego edition includes 3 secondary texts: Oberlin's journals (which Buchner bases many of his facts on, to the point of copying some sections word for word), Goethe's short account of Lenz (which is unfairly tainted by personal bias and animosity) and the translator's afterword (which was very helpful, especially towards the end, for making heads or tails of this book). ( )
2 vote JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Den 20. Jänner ging Lenz durchs Gebirg.
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Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Vosges mountains, Lenz tells the tale of the real-life writer J.M.R. Lenz's nineteen-day stay in Waldersbach in 1778, describing his wanderings around the mountainous surroundings and his worsening fits of madness, eventually culminating in his removal, under guard, to Strasbourg.Valued both as a chilling exploration of paranoid schizophrenia and an influential forerunner of literary modernism, this existential drama boasts a prose style startlingly ahead of its time.

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Archipelago Books

2 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 0974968021, 0981955789

 

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