What Makes Mankind Human?
The Life of Friedrich Schiller
Publication date: 10.09.2004
Hardback, 304 pages
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The classic author rehabilitated as a man of flesh and blood, his work liberated from dusty school shelves: this Schiller biography for young readers underlines, once again, the narrative and dramatic talents of Manfred Mai.
Generations of students were drilled into learning his ballads by heart, and forced to analyse WALLENSTEIN and MARIA STUART – usually with very little enthusiasm. The school system has a way of turning even the most radical poet into a boring subject. Now Manfred Mai's book takes a stand against Schiller's unfounded image of the "dusty classic".
For Friedrich Schiller was anything but dull. He was, on the contrary, a young rebel who became the idol of a young audience, a veritable shooting star, with his debut, DIE RÄUBER. Nevertheless he could not exist by writing alone but was dependant on sponsors and friends whom, luckily, he continued to find. His early years as a poet were spent locked in a struggle with a sovereign who had other career plans for his protégé. DIE RÄUBER was written mainly while fleeing from the sovereign's wrath. Schiller knew he was in danger of ending up in prison but that did not keep him from writing. Nor did his fragile health. Schiller wrote, literally, for his life. The energy, the commitment and the anger that propelled him are always in evidence in his work. To this day, Friedrich Schiller has remained a young poet.
"Manfred Mai conjures up vivid images of times long past in the minds of his readers." (Monika Klutzky, Die Welt)