Academic journal article German Quarterly

Verkorperte Geschichtsentwurfe: George Taboris Theaterarbeit. Embodied Projections on History: George Tabori's Theater Work

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Verkorperte Geschichtsentwurfe: George Taboris Theaterarbeit. Embodied Projections on History: George Tabori's Theater Work

Article excerpt

Hoyng, Peter, ed. Verkorperte Geschichtsentwurfe: George Taboris Theaterarbeit. Embodied Projections on History: George Tabori's Theater Work. Tubingen: Francke, 1998. 219 pp. DM 78.00.

Since the late 1960s, the playwright, director, and actor George Tabori has emerged as an important figure in German and Austrian theater. This collection of essays in German and English brings together an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore this phenomenon and should interest anyone concerned with contemporary German and/or Jewish culture and postmodern drama. Despite its plurality of approaches, certain appropriate themes recur throughout. These include Tabori's interest in stereotypes and human identity, modern Jewish identity, the memory of the Shoah, intertextuality and the reconfiguration of tradition, and a focus on the body that undermines idealism. Tabori's biography-his childhood as a Jew in pre-Holocaust Budapest, 1932-1934 spent in Berlin and Dresden, the murder of his father and other family members by Nazis, his decades as a writer in the U.S. and later success in Europe-puts him in a unique position to explore these topics. However, as this volume demonstrates, it is equally interesting to consider the reverence for literary traditions and the compulsion to usurp them that underlie Tabori's dramaturgy, with its striking combination of profound morality and playful humor.

Jan Strumpel's well-supported essay considers Tabori's ironic treatment of Jewish identity against its cultural-historical background, emphasizing that modern Jewish identity formed in reaction to images of Jews in the majority culture and to the experience of the Holocaust. Tabori's protagonists struggle to break free from a cliche-ridden existence as they confront other oppressed people. Father/son relationships and allusions to rituals involving eating, fasting, and sacrifice are Brigitte Marschall's focus. In a meticulously researched essay, Anat Feinberg discusses Tabori's Kafka adaptations and provides a detailed account of Verwandlungen. She investigates Tabori's fascination with Kafka as a modern prophet, arguing convincingly for parallels between Kafka's prose style and Tabori's method as a director.

Birgit Tautz's theoretical approach to Improvisationen fiber Shakespeares Shylock elucidates how Tabori uses corporeality and materiality to undermine the linguistically determined, stereotyped identities and fixed gender roles that can be part of classical theater. Well-chosen references to historical research and philosophical reflection on the Shoah complement Martin Kagel's close reading of the short story "Mutters Courage. …

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