Johann Nestroy, actor, dramatist, and impresario, left behind 42 volumes of collected works, hundreds of theatre productions and screen adaptations. Yet despite his prodigious output, "the first German satirist who made language think about things" (in the words of Karl Kraus) remains a foggy figure. In his energetic essay, published in time for the writer's 200th birthday, German literature specialist Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler does not attempt to reduce the complexity of Nestroy's huge oeuvre to a common or unifying denominator. Instead, he tracks the disruptions and contradictions that have kept this work alive through many turning points of history and literature. Drawing upon six plays from different creative phases and examining the three central concepts of time, transcience and profession which define the perspectives of the various characters, Schmidt-Dengler illuminates Nestroy's disconcerting satirical force – an irritant for some, and for others the proof of his perspicacity.