By Vladimir Nabokov
Extensively revised via Nabokov in 1965--thirty years after its unique publication--Despair is the wickedly artistic and richly derisive tale of Hermann, a guy who undertakes the best crime--his personal murder.
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Musiktheater at Mannheim was, as at almost all German theatres by this time, a mainstay of the repertoire. Another striking feature if 11 On 14 May 1784 Dalberg had invited the theatre’s “Ausschuß” to respond to the following question: “Was ist Nationalschaubühne im eigentlichsten Verstande? Wodurch kann ein Theater Nationalbühne werden? ” See Die Protokolle des Mannheimer Nationaltheaters unter Dalberg aus den Jahren 1781 bis 1789. Ed. by Max Martersteig. Mannheim 1890. P. 259. Schiller’s speech may have been a response to this challenge.
MA 6/2. 700–701) This was a challenge that by 1802 Schiller had already taken up through his adaptations of works such as Nathan der Weise, Macbeth and Turandot, as well as in his own plays. As soon as he returned to practical involvement with the theatre Schiller planned to preserve the labour of the theatre – and no doubt make some money as well – by publishing a series of plays and adaptations from the theatre’s repertoire complete with critical commentary. The Berlin publisher Unger was keen to take this on if Goethe and Schiller would be the 33 Weimarisches Hoftheater.
Mit diesem harten Tausch von Leben gegen Werk sind wir jedoch nunmehr voll auf Goetheschem Boden, denn es handelt sich um Verwandlung, um 20 21 An Goethe. 1794. MA 8/1. 12–13. Vgl. MA 19. 1829). 34 Metamorphose. Im “Epilog zur ‘Glocke’ ” wird dieser Prozess zunächst auf realistischer Ebene durch die Veranschaulichung von Schillers Lebens- und Arbeitsweise gezeigt. Der grandiosen öffentlichen Deklaration dieses Gedichts, das zum Zweck einer Schillerfeier geschrieben wurde, sollte durch die Gunst des Zufalls eine viel tieferschürfende Meditation folgen.