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Spring Awakening

A Play

Frank Wedekind, Jonathan Franzen (Translated by)


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First performed in Germany in 1906, Frank Wedekind's controversial play Spring Awakening closed after one night in New York in 1917 amid charges of obscenity and public outrage. For the better part of the twentieth century Wedekind's intense body of work was largely unpublished and rarely performed. Yet the play's subject matter—teenage desire, suicide, abortion, and homosexuality—is as explosive and important today as it was acentury ago. Spring Awakening follows the lives of three teenagers, Melchior, Moritz, and Wendl, as they navigate their entry into sexual awareness. Unlike so many works that claim to tell the truth of adolescence, Spring Awakening offers no easy answersor redemption.

Today, one hundred years after the play's first performance, a new musical version of this essential modern masterpiece is being hailed as the "best new musical . . . in a generation" (John Heilpern, The New York Observer). Franzen's version of the text—for so long poorly served in English—is unique in capturing the bizarre and inimitable comic spirit that animates almost every line of this unrelentingly tragic play. There couldn't be a better time for this thrilling, definitive new translation.

Praise For Spring Awakening: A Play

Spring Awakening is the best play ever written about teenagers, and Jonathan Franzen's fraught yet buoyant translation is the best I've ever read. In a culture where lies about adolescence prevail, this funny and honest play is more relevant than ever. Spring Awakening is essential reading.” —Christopher Shinn

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780865479784, 112pp.

Publication Date: September 4, 2007

About the Author

Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) was born in Hanover. He became a journalist and later secretary of a circus before forming his own theatrical company and producing and acting in his own plays. Fruhlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening) was written in 1891 and like all his plays aroused great controversy for its sexual outspokenness. It is perhaps his best known work.

Jonathan Franzen is the author of Purity, The Corrections, Freedom, among other novels, and works of nonfiction including Farther Away and The Kraus Project, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.