I find in human nature a terrible uniformity, in human relationships an irrepressible force, shared by everyone and no one. The individual just foam on the wave, greatness mere chance, the rule of genius a puppet-play, a laughable struggle with an iron law. - Georg Büchner
Büchner was born October 17th, 1813 in Goddelau in the Grand Duchy
of Hessen-Darmstadt. He attended a private school and later the Darmstadt Gymnasium
, then started studying zoology
and comparative anatomy
in 1831. The times were politically rather unstable
, and he came into contact
with a group of radical
students. He also secretly became engaged with his landlord
After moving to Giessen
in 1833 to continue his studies he and a few friends formed the revolution
ary, secret and shortlived "Society For Human Rights". He also helped write the illegal newspaper
"Hessischer Landbote", which urged peasants to revolt. However, its Marx
ist content was a bit ahead of its time and did not reap much success. Anyway, he got promptly snitched on but in the end the police
let him go free.
In January 1835 he wrote "Dantons Tod
", a tragedy about Danton
with the French Revolution
. In March he had to flee to Strassbourg
to avoid arrest
. In 1836 he wrote "Leonce und Lena
", a romantic comedy, and "Lenz
". In October 1836 he moved to Zurich
, where he had received a doctorate
for his dissertation
on "The Nervous System of the Barbel".
During several months he had been working on "Woyzeck
". With this he deepened the theme that had already been noticeable in "Leonce and Lena": The powerlessness
of the individual
, social determination
and free will
. Based on a true story, the anti-hero
a poor and desperate soldier
who in the end is driven to kill his mistress
. It was later made into an opera
" by Alban Berg
Although it was never completed, Georg Büchner's drama fragment Woyzeck occupies a pivotal place in the development of modern drama: its stature and influence have been recognized by representatives of naturalism, expressionism, epic theater, the theater of the absurd, and the documentary theater.
- David G. Richards, Georg Büchner's Woyzeck - A History of its Criticism
"Woyzeck" was to become Büchner's most famous work, but he did not live to see it.
He fell ill with typhus
and died on February 19th, 1837 at the age of 23.