Earth Spirit (Wedekind)

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Title: Earth spirit
Genus: Tragedy in four acts
Original language: German
Author: Frank Wedekind
Publishing year: 1895
Premiere: February 25, 1898
Place of premiere: Krystallpalast , Leipzig
  • Medical Councilor Dr. Goll
  • Dr. Fine , editor-in-chief
  • Alwa , his son
  • Black , painter
  • Prince Escerny , traveler to Africa
  • Schigolch
  • Rodrigo , artist
  • Hugenberg , high school student (played by a girl)
  • Escherich , reporter
  • Lulu
  • Countess Geschwitz , painter
  • Ferdinand , coachman
  • Henriette , maid
  • A servant
Theater ticket for the first performance in 1898 in the Leipzig Krystallpalast (reprint from 1923)

The Earth Spirit is a tragedy published in 1895 in four acts by Frank Wedekind . It was premiered on Monday, February 25th, 1898 in the Leipzig Krystallpalast by the newly founded Ibsen Theater . Schön ”embodied, but not under his name, but under the pseudonym Heinrich Kammerer . The "Lulu" was played by Leonie Taliansky . The continuation of Erdgeist is Wedekind's tragedy Die Büchse der Pandora from 1902. Both pieces were later made by Wedekind as a stage version in a play with the title Lulu. Tragedy summarized in 5 acts with a prologue .


For 21 years, namely from 1892 to 1913, Frank Wedekind worked on the "Lulu" tragedy, which unites the earth spirit and the Pandora's box and is considered his main work not only because of the length of time it was created. The first manuscripts are documented in Wedekind's notebooks in 1892. In 1894 there is “Pandora's Box. A monstrous tragedy. Book Drama ” in five acts. Wedekind divided this original version into two parts: He published the first three acts of this piece in 1895, expanded to include an additional act, under the title Der Erdgeist . The second part of this so-called Lulu tragedy appeared, also independently, under the original title Die Büchse der Pandora (first performance in Nuremberg in 1904), whose moral indecency later led Wedekind to theatrical scandals and lengthy court proceedings. After numerous adaptations, which were mainly aimed at a more understanding reception, the two dramas were brought together again in 1913 in the “Lulu” tragedy. In this arrangement the third act of the earth spirit and the first act of Pandora's box are missing . The world premiere of the entire version of Lulu did not take place until 1988 at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg under the direction of Peter Zadek . Susanne Lothar played the Lulu.


Erdgeist addresses the social rise of Lulu, a revealing girl who casts a spell over her surroundings. The individual acts designed for dramatic situations and effects are self-contained stations in their lives.

Lulu, announced in the prologue by an animal tamer as "the real animal, the wild, beautiful animal", is given to him by the wealthy newspaper publisher Dr. Taken nicely from the street, where she hung around with her alleged father, the old crook Schigolch. Dr. Schön takes Lulu into his care, he educates her and makes her his lover. However, he married her to Medical Councilor Dr. Good to be able to get engaged to someone else (socially better off).

In the first act, Dr. Goll Lulu to the painter Schwarz; this should portray you. When the also present Dr. Schön and his adult son from his first marriage, Alwa, Dr. To persuade Goll to accompany her to a ballet performance, Lulu and the painter are left alone. She promptly seduces him. When Dr. If the two are caught red-handed on his return, the blow hits him.

In the second act, Lulu is married to Schwarz, who through Dr. Schön's help has achieved fame and money. However, Lulu is still Dr. Schön's mistress. Since the latter wants to free himself from her in favor of his imminent marriage, he tells Schwarz about Lulu's unrestrained life. Black is deeply shaken and "guillotines" himself with a razor blade.

In the third act, Lulu appears as a dancer in a revue. Dr. Shattered, Schön has to realize that he still can't leave her, that he is in a sense addicted to her. Lulu forces him to break off his engagement.

In the fourth and final act, Lulu is now with Dr. Nicely married and cheating on him with friends and lackeys (such as Schigolch, Alwa, the cocky artist Rodrigo Quast and the lesbian Countess Geschwitz). Lulu gets caught and tries to force her to commit suicide. But she kills him, whereupon she goes to prison.

This is the starting point for the later sequel Pandora's Box .


Themes in Erdgeist are the criticism of the bourgeois pseudo-morality - here in the person of Lulu, who destroys it through her radical naturalness. The work is a call for self-development and emancipation . In addition, Wedekind turns against naturalism with his drastic situations and effects .

Influence on other works

The dramas Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora served as models for the opera Lulu by Alban Berg and the German silent films Erdgift by Paul Otto (1920), Erdgeist by Leopold Jessner (1923) and Die Büchse der Pandora by Georg Wilhelm Pabst (1929) . The two dramas also served as models for ballets on several occasions, for example for Menagerie by Tatjana Gsovsky (1958, Städtische Oper Berlin) with music composed by Giselher Klebe .

The figure of Lulu in Wedekind's work is also enjoying a certain popularity with recent scriptwriters. Some films have been inspired by it, including Lulu on the Bridge (1998) and Something Wild (1986).

In October 2011, the musician Lou Reed and the band Metallica released a concept album called Lulu . There, the songs that Lou Reed had written for the theater director Robert Wilson and his Lulu production at the Berliner Ensemble were recorded together.


  • Silvia Bovenschen: Staging the staged femininity: Wedekind's “Lulu” - paradigmatic. In: Silvia Bovenschen: The imagined femininity. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-518-12431-5 , pp. 43-59.
  • Ruth Florack : Wedekind's "Lulu". Caricature of sensuality (= studies on German literary history. Volume 76). Niemeyer, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-484-32076-1 .
  • Peter Langemeyer: Frank Wedekind: Lulu. Earth spirit. Pandora's Box. (= Reclams Universal Library: Explanations and Documents) Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-016046-4 .
  • Hans Mayer: Lulu and other women devils. In: Hans Mayer: Outsiders. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1975, ISBN 3-518-03624-6 , pp. 127-137.
  • Ingo Müller: Lulu. Literature processing and opera dramaturgy: A comparative analysis of Frank Wedekind's Lulu dramas and Alban Berg's opera Lulu in the light of reflections on genre theory. (= Rombach Sciences: Litterae Series, Bd. 177) Rombach, Freiburg i. Br. 2010, ISBN 978-3-7930-9624-5 .

Individual evidence

  1. Frank Wedekind: Earth Spirit. Langen, Paris and Leipzig 1895 ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  2. ^ Franz Adam Beyerlein : The Litterarian Society in Leipzig. With an imprint of the theater ticket for the world premiere of Wedekind, Erdgeist (= contributions to city history 4). Walter Bielefeld, Leipzig 1923, p. 111 f.

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