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Spring's Awakening

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,420 ratings  ·  177 reviews
Spring's Awakening is a tragi-comedy of teenage sex. Its fourteen-year-old heroine, Wendla, is killed by abortion pills. The young Moritz, terrorized by the world around him, and especially by his teachers, shoots himself. The ending seems likely to be the suicide of Moritz's friend, Melchior, but in a confrontation with a mysterious stranger (the famous Masked Man) he fin ...more
Paperback, 126 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers (first published January 31st 1891)
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The Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaThe Trial by Franz KafkaAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarquePerfume by Patrick SüskindFaust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Best German/Austrian Literature
64th out of 567 books — 600 voters
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German Classics
48th out of 191 books — 95 voters


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Community Reviews

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Greg
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.
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yngvild
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
Rosie Gaunt
German Frank Wedekind's seminal work is wunderbar in the most astounding way. Disturbing, yes. Groundbreaking, yes. Still as disturbing and groundbreaking today as it was when it was published in the late 1800s. The play is a spitting attack on the oppression of teens at the turn of the century, a concentrated and venomous fin de siecle commentary, which was banned asap, and quel surprise Germany, and indeed other countries continued to oppress sex. This is a play that everyone needs to read tho ...more
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
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
Phoebe
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
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
Lori Mcfarlane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
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
Nina at 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
Carson
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
Gitta
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.
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
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
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
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
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
The Franzen translation. The fact that this exists feels almost too good to be true.
Iris
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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: German Students, German teachers, literature students
Recommended to Michael by: Dr. Steven Fuller
Shelves: drama, german
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
Sizes May Vary
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.
Qi Yin
Oct 30, 2008 Qi Yin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young Adult
Recommended to Qi Yin by: School
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma
Having seen the west end production of this three years ago and enjoyed that, I thought it would be worthwhile to read the play to see what the storyline really was and how this was adapted to the stage. I have to say that the west end production was a fairly accurate reproduction of the story here with some further additions of their own for originality one can presume.

Whilst I did not find this story as shocking as perhaps it would have been when it was first published, I can certainly underst
...more
Thayná
I quite wasn't expecting to like just way I did. And this is kind of strange, because I've been saying this a lot lately.
I said "like", but let me explain myself. It wasn't just because of all the dark-funny moments and the subjects that are also so real now days. But it's written so beautifully and it's full of irony and it's raw and mean and also true. So true that it made me sick in my stomach after finishing it. But it was a good feeling, though.
I had to go back to check the last line I've
...more
Hikari
Am Anfang hatte mich das Stück von Wedekind etwas irritiert. Immerhin wird es eine Kindertragödie genannt. Die dann aber erst mit dem voranschreitenden Ende wirklich ans Licht kommt.

Ich muss sagen, dass es mir schwer fällt, über dieses Werk eine Rezension zu verfassen. Der Inhalt ist nicht ganz einfach und zu viel möchte ich ja auch nicht verraten.

Frühlings Erwachen erzählt scheinbar zunächst von der Pubertät einiger Jugendlicher, die sich immer größeren Problemen ausgesetzt sehen, bis sie schli
...more
Jolanda
Notes prior to reading: I was first introduced to Spring Awakening when the musical came out. I've been familiar with its music for some years now, and actually got to see it live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as performed by an American high school. At the same Festival, I got to see the actual play as it was originally written by Wedekind. I liked the musical, how it dealt with heavy themes like sexuality and identity and was curious to see how much it differs from the original play, the t ...more
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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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