Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Bioethical Problems in Lukas Barfuss's Drama

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Bioethical Problems in Lukas Barfuss's Drama

Article excerpt


In the middle of the 90s in the German speaking European countries--Germany, Austria and Switzerland--a new generation of playwrights attracted attention. Young gifted authors being different in style and talent were united by interest in modern play, turn to reality, subtle sense of reality. Critics and theatre experts began to speak of "new realism" that replaced post-modernist theatre prevailing in cultural space of Europe of the end of XX century.

Young dramatists--L. Barfuss, T. Jonigk, D. Loer , M. von Meienburg, R. Pollesh, M.Rinke, R. Shimmelpfenning, K.Shlender and others--write about the things that trouble a contemporary man: family and social problems, new sources of information and their influence on our life, globalization and pressure of competition, interpersonal relations, sadism and aggression, fears and complexes, estrangement and loneliness. The words by Russian dramatist M. Durnenkov are applicable to them beyond doubt: "New drama is an absolutely authentic reaction to the state and time we live in". Interestingly that we observe an analogous picture in post-perestroika Russian drama.

Thus, new generation of dramatists face up to modern times but at the same time equip themselves with the whole arsenal of various innovative experimental forms and devices originated by the preceding epoch.

Lukas Barfuss (year of birth 1971) is a Swiss dramatist and writer, one of the epoch-making modern German language authors writing for the stage. Barfuss is a laureate of many national and international prizes and awards, his plays have been translated into many languages.

In the limelight of Barfuss's plays there are existential issues--death, love, faith, meaning of life, sufferings, disappointments, as well as socio-psychological situation. So, the dramatist has a keen interest in the problems of bioethics. Scientific-technical progress of the end of XX -beginning of XXI centuries is associated with really revolutionary discoveries in the field of medicine and biology. Having made the human life easier, they, however, simultaneously became the subject of manipulation, the instrument of power and enrichment, the sphere of application of political and commercial interests. Therefore, the significance of bioethics has increased recently--the phenomenon connected with a moral aspect of human activity in medicine and biology. The key issues of bioethics are euthanasia, encatarrhaphy, abortion, cloning, production of stem cells, conducting clinical trials, surrogate maternity, eugenics and so on. They have become the subject not only of scientific but also artistic interpretation, part of popular and serious literature.

Lukas Barfuss applies to bioethic issues in two plays: "Alisa's Trip to Switzerland" (<>, 2005) and "The Test" (<>, 2007). The first one tells us about a doctor who practises euthanasia, the second--the DNA test to determine paternity, which were misses for the family.

The problem of euthanasia, it's legal and ethic legitimacy has become in the center of public debates recently. Who is authorized to decide? Does euthanasia correlate with an idea of human dignity, value of human life? What is life of dignity? What is man? Is it possible for the doctors to elaborate a universal pattern of activity? Where is a boundary between genuine longing for death and temporary psychic depression? Will legalization of active euthanasia be the step on the road that leads to the destruction of any reverence for human life? These and other problems concern the public in relation to the aforesaid.


The complex description analysis of the text is the main method of investigation. The author's point of view is brought to light in the course of the analysis of problem-thematic, narrative-compositional level of the plays and means of literary figurativeness. …

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