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The Awakening of Spring: A Tragedy of Childhood (1912)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  4,101 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
This scarce antiquarian book is a selection from Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprint Series. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment to protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature. Kessinger ...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published September 10th 2010 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1890)
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Anna There is a bisexual character and at least one mlm couple. (Arguably two, but the other is only mentioned as a past event.)

Many people believe that…more
There is a bisexual character and at least one mlm couple. (Arguably two, but the other is only mentioned as a past event.)

Many people believe that Moritz is not heterosexual (some say ace, others gay), but that just depends how you read him. His queerness is hinted at more in the musical adaptation by Steven Sater.

Because of the style of Wedekind's writing, you can read almost all of the characters as LGBTQ+ if you're looking for it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Greg
Dec 16, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
An interesting play, that's probably as taboo now as it would have been a hundred years ago. Teen suicide, sadistic and masochistic acts, teen sex, murder, moping, masturbation and depression. On top of all these 'disturbing' elements are some very humorous moments and wonderfully written moments of adult (as in grown-ups, not as a euphenism for dirty) banality and absurdity.
Yngvild
Jun 01, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Usually, I find reading plays a poor second to seeing them performed, but some plays are simply unplayable. Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening (Frühlings Erwachen) comes into that category. Apart from the problem of most of the characters being young teenagers (adults playing children never works), the play needs space and quiet for the audience to think in. There is little of that in a musical or noisy West End show.

Like Ibsen, Wedekind briefly mentions events and then leaves us to fill in the b
...more
Robert
Jun 02, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, german
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juushika
A controversial play published in 1891, not performed until 1906, and adpated into a musical in 2006, Spring's Awakening is the story of children facing the beginning of adolescence within the repressed culture of 1892 Germany. This edition, translated and edited by Bentley, contains a number of mini-essays by the editor on everything from the play's timeline to some of its key themes. This commentary is interesting if artless (and, combined with the sprinkling of typos, begs for an editor), pro ...more
Therese Bowes
Having read this after watching the musical, it frustrates me even further that the musical version turned the rape scene into a love scene.. (although I'm not really buying the love scene anyway because Wendla had no real understanding of what was going on in both the play and musical). The rest of the changes are minor in comparison, I guess, but there were a lot of them. I do love that the themes of sexuality, education, religion, etc are still prevalent today in the same exact ways they are ...more
Sean
May 25, 2009 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this - the original German play from the late 1800's - in anticipation of seeing the fawned-over new musical (which translator Jonathan Franzen is quick to dismiss as "insipid.") Dark, unique and sadly funny - I'd highly recommend this one to theater people, and caution others that it may in fact be too disturbing to be easily digested. My mind was spinning with thoughts of how you would stage the play today, and it was perhaps only this that prevented me from being truly disturbed. Capti ...more
Matt
Nov 20, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The living are as such not to be pitied.

Don't let the title Spring Awakening fool you. This is an impressive piece about growing up. The underlying themes of this play are rather bleak. The issues are serious, deadly serious. Moral authorities –parents, school, church – are there to provide a compass for the adolescents, which eventually lead them astray, one way or another. In some cases the road to their respective hell is paved with good intentions, in other cases it's just plain ignorance. S
...more
Zack
This is a story about several young teenagers in late 1800's Germany who are all coming to terms with what it means to be both children and adults; or at least somewhere inbetween. It's a story about exploring themselves both mentally and physically but also noticing the difference in their interactions and relations with other teenagers – and most importantly, their relation to the adult world and how the adults view and treat them and their questions and thoughts.

It's about the suicidal teena
...more
Phoebe
Jan 31, 2009 Phoebe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by far one of the most influential and moving pieces of literature i have ever read. Now, i will be honest- i saw the musical first. But, in my mind Spring Awakening the musical has it's own slot and Spring's Awakening the play has it's own as well. They are very very very different stories.

The play, despite being from a censored and cruel time in Germany's past, brings up many modern struggles. The tale of teens reaching puberty and discovering these bodies and emotions they didn't know
...more
B
Feb 04, 2009 B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the original, un-censored version of the script. I guess it was pretty controversial back in the day.

I have to say, I don't really see what all the big hot dog is about this script. People talk in paragraphs, not dialogue. I hate that. Have a conversation. People don't normally talk for 3 minutes and then stop and let the other person talk for 3 minutes in response to what they said.

I guess it would be disturbing to watch if you got a bunch of good, actual 14-year-olds to play the main
...more
Pixelflocke
Wedekinds "Frühlings Erwachen" war bei uns Schullektüre. Ich kann mich noch gut daran erinnern, in der 8ten Klasse hatte ich es gelesen und ich weiß noch genau, wie es mich damals begeistert hat.
Auch heute noch kehre ich immer wieder gerne zu dem Stück zurück. Es ist einfach großartig!
Katie
Mar 18, 2016 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably yet another reader who was 'Spring Awakening' on Broadway and decided to read the play after. I knew the musical adaption well, so I did a lot of comparing and contrasting of nuances as I read. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the play, but now I can say that I have read it.
Riley
Oct 30, 2015 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written at a time when people were far more conservative than they are today, it is easy to see why this play was banned for so long. It is about a group of teenagers coming into adolescence and exploring their sexuality. Wedekind does not bother with only talking about a few aspects of this, instead tackling almost every aspect of teenage sexuality.

The play has a great message about the importance of communicating with the people in your life. In the story, a boy ends up taking his own life be
...more
Lori Mcfarlane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
Jun 05, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The version I read is actually translated by Jonathan Franzen, and that's perhaps why I'm not a huge fan as Franzen seems to me--and this is having only read non-fiction essays and memoir by the man--among the most pretentious and condescending writers I have ever read. Franzen elected to keep all of Wedekind's idiosyncratic punctuation, which I appreciate because, y'know, authorial intent, but the result is a series of over-long, choppy speeches that are difficult to imagine in actual performan ...more
Giovanni
Apr 15, 2016 Giovanni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work is very famous because of his theme, which is, of course, sex. As the title suggests, Spring Awakening is about the awakening of the first sex impulses during the adolescence. Talking about such a theme in 1891 caused the play to be censored or banned. It’s enough to say that he finished writing it in 1891 and could not find its first performance until 1906 (before his first staging the work was considered “pure pornography”). Today it belongs to the classics of German literature, read ...more
Nina (Death, Books, and Tea)

Review: Late 1800s Germany. Schoolboys and girls discover sexuality. It really does not go well. Among other things, Wedla Bergmann does not understand how babies are made, Moritz Stiefl is tormented by erotic dreams, and Melchior Gabor, having read about sex, now believes in nothing. In a series of scenes, we follow the teens as they try to navigate growing up.
You may have heard of the rock musical that got adapted from this play. It’s the controversial one that deals with rape, suicide, child
...more
Gitta
Feb 03, 2009 Gitta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book really shocked me when I first read it. It was assigned reading in school, and I just couldn't believe I was reading a book about teenage sex, about abortions, masturbation, in school! IN CLASS! In a book that was written a hundred years ago.
It just knocked me on the head.

One day I'll take the time to re-read it.
Carson
Sep 04, 2015 Carson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reads like a beautifully written soap opera. If there was a period piece soap on the air, this would be it.
The feeling of liking Melchior, the eventual rapist of Wendla as she's on a swing, a true sign of innocence. Moritz being Melchior's best friend and his friends and family really take his pain as a joke, which leads to his death and Melchior's only sign of remorse, standing beside his lover's grave and that of his friend. Whether it is genuine, I don't know. Melchior's character is com
...more
Jan-Maat
Featuring abortion, suicide, a homosexual kiss and some masochism this play about German teenagers first published in 1891 is frequently still controversial when staged.
afra
Aug 22, 2007 afra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hahaha. One hell of a crazy play. You've got to love a play written in 1891, in which teenagers in a repressed society kill themselves upon learning the mechanics about sex.
Dennis
Jan 02, 2015 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tabu werden gebrochen. Heute vielleicht kein allzu schockierendes Drama, berücksichtigt man aber die Zeit, in der dieses Werk erschien, kann man nur voller Respekt sein.
Cary S
Jul 01, 2012 Cary S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play will forever be synonymous with the second half of high school in my heart. Thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it walks a bit on the dark side...
Lori
Jun 13, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This play has it all: teenage sex/rape, abortion, masturbation, homosexual acts, suicide, bad grades!!! And it's all the grown-ups' fault!!!
Will Walton
Nov 23, 2013 Will Walton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Franzen translation. The fact that this exists feels almost too good to be true.
Iris Campbell
Dec 27, 2013 Iris Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read an edition translated into English by Jonathan Franzen. On the one hand, he put me off so much it was hard to rate this five stars. In his introduction, Mr. Franzen starts by telling a bit about the life of Frank Wedekind. That's innocuous enough -- and quite interesting! But then, he goes on to COMPLETELY bash the hit Broadway musical. He insults it in every way imaginable, just tearing it apart. Then he insults the audience, other people's interpretations of the play, and even other tr ...more
Henry Hardwick
Feb 07, 2014 Henry Hardwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junior-year, theatre
One of the most amazing aspects of Spring's Awakening is that the subject material that gained it notoriety in 1891 has allowed it to remain relative to this very day. While it was miraculous to have stumbled upon this play through its modern musical adaption, the everlasting taboos of atheism, deviancy, domestic abuse, homosexuality, rape, and suicide are paired alongside the façade of a politically correct society of academic rigor, childish curiosity, morality, and unrequited love in order to ...more
Michael
Nov 26, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: German Students, German teachers, literature students
Recommended to Michael by: Dr. Steven Fuller
Shelves: german, drama
This "children's tragedy" was shocking for its time and not performed uncut for many decades. It deals with issues of teenage sex and suicide that are today commonplace on tv afternoon specials, but points the finger at an older generation that tries to preserve innocence through ignorance of the facts of life, and thereby ruins lives. The young heroine, Wendla, dies from an attempted abortion because her mother tells her that only married women can become pregnant. Young Moritz commits suicide ...more
Una Theia
Feb 27, 2013 Una Theia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, german, in-en
This time my reading experience was different.
Usually, the original writing style weighs more than anything for me. This fact has a simple explanation: themes and ideas are rarely original and truly genuine; that is why the manner, the approach, the attitude, the design (of writing) is more important.

”The Awakening of Spring” is special as way of communicating information. It has educational purposes acknowledged by reader through a series of life experience examples in very young people (age
...more
Samantha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Benjamin Franklin Wedekind, usually known as Frank Wedekind, was a German playwright. His work, which often criticizes bourgeois attitudes (particularly towards sex), is considered to anticipate expressionism, and he was a major influence on the development of epic theatre.
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“The fog is clearing; life is a matter of taste.” 34 likes
“I didn't ask to be born, and I don't owe God anything.” 17 likes
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