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Spring Awakening: A Play Paperback – September 4, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


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

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086547978X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865479784
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gio on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
... in just one century! There's little doubt in my reading mind that Benjamin Franklin Wedekind (conceived in San Francisco, born in Germany, miseducated in Switzerland) meant to shock the socks off the bourgeois public when he wrote 'Frühlings Erwachen' in 1891. It's a play about teenagers -- yes, Virginia, there were teenagers in 1891 -- doing things that even adults couldn't do on a conventional stage; there are explicit scenes of rape, suicide, homos*xuality, and mast*rbation. One teenage girl is a debauched artists' model, and a childish playmate! One 14-year-old girl is beaten and abused by her father, and another envies her for it. The latter pesters her mother for the 'secrets of reproduction', finds herself incomprehensibly pregnant after the rape, and dies in an ab*rtion.

"Spring Awakening" was first staged in Germany in 1906, in a heavily censored version. It played in New York for one day in 1917 but was condemned as obscenity. I wonder, would an audience in 2009 find this play horribly shocking, or would we smugly guffaw at the 19th Century moralities that it mocks. I have a feeling that the world has been so thoroughly Wedekinderized since 1891 that we'd need real blood and nudity on stage to be sufficiently shaken up. When the central character, the boy Melchior, is sent to the reformatory, for instance, he joins a circle of boys competing for a coin by trying to be the first to spurt s*men on it. That might startle even a New York audience toughened up by David Mamet.

Gnarly stuff, eh? Nevertheless, Wedekind meant his play to be uproariously funny, and it is. The scenes in which the adults - parents and teachers - reveal their utter hapless in consequentiality are fresh and witty still.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr Jacques COULARDEAU on December 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This plays reveals a common theme at the time, the enslavement of young people in Germany within their boarding schools. Törless is the most famous victim of this environment. But here we are dealing with Moritz and Melchior, proving that M&M's is not the best of medicine in life. This total control of the young people's life that has only one objective, to study, to learn Latin and translate Greek, goes along with an absolute desexualization of their psyche in the name of an extreme puritan vision of ethics and life. This causes a depressive existential vision in these teenagers who look for some satisfaction anyway they can, some erotic information and literature, some friendship among themselves as a surrogate of the love they need and are deprived of, even banging up the first girl they find on their road and who knows nothing about love or rather intercourse. This produces a drama, of course. One fourteen year old boy, Moritz, commits suicide in his boarding school that expels his best friend, Melchior, who had passed some information about the physical activities they are all dreaming of, and had impregnated a certain Wendla who will die of an overdose of an abortive drug given to her by her own mother. This sexual information is considered as the unethical trigger of the suicide. Melchior's family then decides to send him to a house of correction where he discovers real evil and convinces himself he is the most guilty human being in the world. He is then tempted by crime or, because of some remnant of ethics, by suicide to put away his good for nothing person. This dilemma is set up on the stage after Melchior's escape from the house of correction in the last scenes in the graveyard where the suicidee Moritz is buried.Read more ›
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May I begin first by stating the following outright unlike many of Mr. Franzen's critics: Jonathan Franzen clearly DOES understand what he is talking about. He explains in his introduction the full detail on why he obsessively loathes the Broadway musical and his personal interpretation of the play. If you have followed my words thus far, you have most easily discovered the very problem in Franzen proclaiming his the "thrilling and definitive new translation". This translation of the play is wrought with the direction in which Franzen has decided to interpret the text, and finds itself very rigid to any other interpretation. When making the comparison between different translations, one will find that the original Ziegler translation contains the same elements of comedy (some made much better due to their scarcity), and yet without the blatant and quite Frankly (see what I did there?) confusing interpretations made by Franzen. Much of Franzen's translation takes away from what makes this play a tragi-comedy, his Act Two, Scene Seven is very much different from the darkness of Ziegler's... And while, true, this was Franzen's intent as he saw the comedy here as pinnacle, it transforms the scene into something that is more akin to actual comedy than the dark humor of the earlier translations. This kind of change is present throughout the play, and while Franzen claims to capture "the bizarre comic spirit that animates every scene", he also forsakes the room for personal interpretation that the earlier translations kept in mind.Read more ›
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