Nietzsche signs a contract

From issue 153 (November 1941) of Adam International Review:

For decades the Berlin theatre (now in ruins) was astounding in its vitality.
But as a whole the German theatre had also many things difficult to swallow. Ah, those nebulous dramas!… I know the manuscript, I know the performance, but I do not know the play.

Watching an average German play the critic has plenty of scope for conjecturing what is happening in it. The author, who himself does not know it, passes on this job to him. Then it is up to the critic to say of a mess that it is “profound.”

There are dramatists who deal wtih a problem in every play and even supply a solution – by chance coincidence. In such cases I have a vision of this type: Smith has fallen to the bottom of a high tower; his position is most precarious; the walls are covered with sharp spikes; the top of the walls is lined with broken glass; how will he escape?
The author answers softly: “The tower collapses.”

How does the average German dramatist deal with the symbolical?
If a suspension bridge occurs in a play, for instance, you may be sure that one of the characters will say: “Life is a suspension bridge.”
If the hero is a chiropodist, someone is bound to murmur: “At bottom, all men are chiropodists.”

In Germany there are plays full of a comforting pantheism which says: “We shall die, it is true, but what does that matter? We disappear, but life continues – in others.”
It is as though I said to the Countess Wartensleben after her pearls have been stolen: “Don’t worry, they still exist, only it is not you who have them.”

The average dramatist studies two kinds of human souls: that of his characters and that of the managers.

A critic’s nightmare: Nietzsche, still alive, signs a contract to film Zarathustra.

– Alfred Kerr, “Stray Thoughts of a Dramatic Critic”



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