This work details the dramatic final days of Mary, Queen of Scots. The action opens with Mary's unjust imprisonment and ends with her execution, which is ultimately ordered by Mary's morally conflicted cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England. Schiller's play is widely regarded as one of the finest literary distillations of these controversial historical events, and the text served as the basis for the opera Maria Stuarda.
“Essential reading.” — New Society. A classic of eighteenth-century thought, Friedrich Schiller’s treatise on the role of art in society ranks among German philosophy’s most profound works. In addition to its importance to the history of ideas, this 1795 essay remains relevant to our own time. Beginning with a political analysis of contemporary society — in particular, the French Revolution and its failure to implement universal freedom — Schiller observes that people cannot transcend their circumstances without education. He conceives of art as the vehicle of education, one that can liberate individuals from the constraints and excesses of either pure nature or pure mind. Through aesthetic experience, he asserts, people can reconcile the inner antagonism between sense and intellect, nature and reason. Schiller’s proposal of art as fundamental to the development of society and the individual is an enduringly influential concept, and this volume offers his philosophy’s clearest, most vital expression.
When Schiller completed Wilhelm Tell as a "New Year's Gift for 1805" he foretold that it would cause a stir. He was right. In the midst of Great Power politics a play which drew substance from one of the fourteenth-century liberation movements proved both attractive and inflammatory. Since then the work as become immensely popular. This new English translation by William F. Mainland brings out the essential tragi-comic nature of Wilhelm Tell but also emphasizes its impressive formal unity.
Schiller based his play on chronicles of the Swiss liberation movement, in which Wilhelm Tell played a major role. Since Tell's existence has never been proven, Schiller, a historian by profession, felt he had to devise a figure who would bring the uncertainties and contradictions of the various Swiss chronicles into focus. Respected for his courage and skill with a bow, for his peaceable nature and his integrity, Schiller's archer—while always ready to aid his fellows—habitually seeks solitude. In the midst of political turmoil Wilhelm Tell is the nonpolitical man of action.
Keenly interested in the problematic interplay of history and legend, Schiller turned it to be dramatic advantage. He constructed his play to illustrate the greatest possible development of the character traits suggested for Tell by the chronicles. The result of Schiller's supreme achievement in historical drama.
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) was one of the most influential of all playwrights, the author of deeply moving dramas that explored human fears, desires and ideals. Written at the age of twenty-one, The Robbers was his first play. A passionate consideration of liberty, fraternity and deep betrayal, it quickly established his fame throughout Germany and wider Europe. Wallenstein, produced nineteen years later, is regarded as Schiller's masterpiece: a deeply moving exploration of a flawed general's struggle to bring the Thirty Years War to an end against the will of his Emperor. Depicting the deep corruption caused by constant fighting between Protestants and Catholics, it is at once a meditation on the unbounded possible strength of humanity, and a tragic recognition of what can happen when men allow themselves to be weak.
One of European theatre's major plays, Schiller's masterpiece hinges on a brilliantly imagined meeting between Mary, Queen of Scots - focus of simmering Catholic dissent and her cousin Elizabeth, Queen of England, who has imprisoned her. Isolated by their duplicitous male courtiers, the women collide headlong, each wrestling with the rank, ambition and destiny their births have bestowed, against a thrilling background of intrigue, plot and counter-plot.
David Harrower's version of Mary Stuart premiered at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow, in October 2006.
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