Carl Zuckmayers illustrious career as one of Central Europes most prolific and popular playwrights during the years of the Weimar Republic after 1918 was cut short by the Nazi seizure of power in Germany in 1933. His plays were banned during the following twelve years, and he was forced to flee into exile, first in Austria and then in the United States. His return to Germany after the war was fraught with difficulty as he sought to find his place amid the destruction and dislocation of his native land. Zuckmayer finally settled in a remote village in the Swiss Alps, where he died in 1977.
This book attempts to summarize and evaluate Carl Zuckmayers life and work. Part 1 is biographical, fleshing out his time as a schoolboy in Mainz, his military service during the First World War (during which he was severely wounded), his erratic ascent as a luminary in the world of European theater, his expatriate years of isolation on a farm in Vermont, and his efforts to reestablish a comfortable home and creative activity after his postwar return to Europe.
Part 2 concentrates on Zuckmayers satirical plays and stage productions. After a few notable failures at the outset, he developed a remarkable talent for comic invention, thereby earning the distinction of being perhaps Europes most prestigious dramatic author for a time. While in Vermont, he enhanced his reputation by composing a disturbing account of German resistance to Nazism, The Devils General, frequently performed throughout both Western and Eastern Europe and subsequently made into an internationally acclaimed film. This analysis of Zuckmayers most salient writings is further buttressed by an examination of his extensive personal correspondence, now collected and available in the German Literature Archive in Marbach.
There is no other study in the English language that presents such a concise yet comprehensive biography of Carl Zuckmayer as well as a review of his major works.