German Shakespeare Society

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Shakespeare monument in Weimar

The German Shakespeare Society was founded on the occasion of the 300th birthday of William Shakespeare on April 23, 1864 as the first scientific and cultural association of this kind by Wilhelm Oechelhäuser and Franz Freiherr von Dingelstedt in Weimar . It is one of the oldest still working literary societies in the world. (The Berlin Society for the Study of Modern Languages, the Herrigsche Gesellschaft, is even older; it was founded in 1857 and is still active in Berlin today.)

Goal setting and history

The aim of the Shakespeare Society, to which it is still committed today, was to "maintain and promote Shakespeare in the German-speaking area". Since then the most diverse activities of the society have been aimed at this goal: the publication of a yearbook, the promotion of translations and popular editions, the establishment of a Shakespeare library and, above all, the annual Shakespeare Days with a diverse program of lectures, theater performances, scientific colloquiums and Discussion events.

Photo of the inauguration of the Shakespeare monument in the Park an der Ilm in Weimar on April 23, 1904 with 45 people
Inauguration of the Shakespeare monument in the Park an der Ilm in Weimar on April 23, 1904

On April 23, 1904, on the 40th day the society was founded , the first Shakespeare memorial created by the sculptor Otto Lessing was erected and inaugurated on the European mainland in Weimar in the Park an der Ilm . The monument stands in front of an artificially created backdrop of ruins, which is intended to symbolize the ephemeral. Lessing depicted Shakespeare on this memorial with two different faces. When looking from the right, the face looks serious and thoughtful, while the facial features when looking from the left appear mischievously smiling. It was made of Carrara - marble made. As a further symbol for these two characters, Lessing depicted a skull with a fool's cap at Shakespeare's feet.

The DSG, initially very patriotic and in keeping with the spirit of the German nationality, saw itself for a long time as an authority for judging the various Shakespeare translations, which culminated in the ostracism of the stage- ready versions by Hans Ludwig Rothe , which were very popular in the Weimar Republic .

In the wake of the division of Germany in 1963, the company split. For thirty years there was a German Shakespeare Society based in Weimar and a German Shakespeare Society West based in Bochum . Both societies continued to publish the yearbook and hold annual Shakespeare Days for their area and developed their own profiles.

On the occasion of the 1993 Shakespeare Days in Weimar, after careful preparation, the reunification that had long been desired by almost all members of both societies was carried out and a joint board was elected. The society now has around 2000 members, including academics, theater people, teachers, students and Shakespeare enthusiasts from all walks of life. The average age is under 40 years.

Honorary President

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Deutsche Welle ( Shakespeare - always reloaded | Culture | DW | 04/23/2016. Retrieved January 10, 2018 .
  2. Kenneth Branagh. Honoring the Shakespeare Society in FAZ on February 7, 2014, page 40.