The Bride of Messina, or The Enemy Brothers; William Tell; Demetrius, or The Blood Wedding in Moscow

The Bride of Messina, or The Enemy Brothers; William Tell; Demetrius, or The Blood Wedding in Moscow

The Bride of Messina, or The Enemy Brothers; William Tell; Demetrius, or The Blood Wedding in Moscow

The Bride of Messina, or The Enemy Brothers; William Tell; Demetrius, or The Blood Wedding in Moscow

Excerpt

In 1776, when Schiller was seventeen years old, two youthful playwrights submitted tragedies in response to a prize competition announced in the newspapers of the previous year by a couple of Hamburg amateurs of the theatre. Johann Anton Leisewitz, aged twenty-four, offered Julius of Taranto, a somber play about a pair of brothers, Julius and Guido, rivals for the love of the beautiful Blanca. Unmitigated gloom drew the final curtain, with Julius murdered by Guido in a fit of jealous rage, with Blanca insane from grief, with Guido stabbed by his out- raged father, and with the father renouncing his rule over Taranto to become a Carthusian monk. It was young Schiller's favorite play. Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, also aged twenty- four, offered The Twins (Die Zwillinge), the plot of which he adapted, rather conveniently, from his competitor, Leisewitz. Young Guelfo, its hero, was morbidly jealous of his older twin brother, Ferdinando, and suspected that he was himself the elder of the two and therefore wrongfully dispossessed. Ferdinando, for his part, sought by every means to conciliate Guelfo, even to passing over the latter's attempt to rob him of his fiancée, Kamilla. At length Guido murdered Ferdinando, and then, with his hand upon the corpse, wildly vaunted his guilt to his aged father. Whereupon the aged father stabbed him with a dagger.

Both plays patently influenced Schiller's own first drama, The Robbers (1781), yet so strongly did their memory linger on in his mind that he continued to cherish the plan of a future drama to be called The Rival Brothers. Years later, on March 21, 1799, with Wallenstein barely finished, he discussed the . . .

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