Modernist Medievalism and the Expressionist Morality Play: Georg Kaiser’s From Morning to Midnight

Open access


This article examines the modernist medievalism of Georg Kaiser’s From Morning to Midnight (Von morgens bis mitternachts), discussing the influence of the morality play genre on its form. The characterization and action in Kaiser’s play mirrors and evokes that of morality plays influenced by and including the late-medieval Dutch play Elckerlijc and its English translation as Everyman, in particular Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann, first produced in Berlin in 1911. The medievalism of Kaiser’s play is particularly evident when it is compared to Karl Heinz Martin’s film version of the text, produced in 1920. The play’s allegory and message, though contemporary, are less specifically historically contextual than the film’s, while its central protagonist is more representative of generic capitalist subjectivity. The detective film shapes Martin’s adaptation, obscuring the morality play conventions and therefore medievalism of Kaiser’s earlier text.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Artaud Antonin. 1961. Manifeste pour un théâtre avorté [Manifesto for a Theatre that Failed]. In Ouevres Complètes [Collected Works] vol. II 22–25. Paris: Gallimard.

  • Antonin Artaud 1988 [1976]. Manifesto for a Theatre That Failed. In Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings ed. Susan Sontag 159–162. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Conley John. 1985. Preface. In The Mirror of Everyman’s Salvation: a prose translation of the original Everyman eds. John Conley Guido de Baere H. J. C. Schaap and W. H. Toppen 7–13. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

  • Davidson Clifford. 1989. Visualizing the Moral Life: Medieval Iconography and the Macro Morality Plays. New York: AMS Press.

  • Davidson Clifford Martin W. Walsh and Ton J. Broos eds. 2007. Everyman and Its Dutch Original Elckerlijc. Kalamazoo MI: Medieval Institute Publications.

  • Flavell M. Kay. 1988. George Grosz: A Biography. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  • Goebel Stefan 2008. Great War and Medieval Memory: War Remembrance and Medievalism in Britain and Germany 1914–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Henze Wolfgang. 2007. The Sculptures of Kirchner Scherer Müller and Wiegers. In Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Friends: Expressionism from the Swiss Mountains eds. Beat Stutzer Samuel Vitali Han Steenbruggen and Matthias Frehner 142–169. Zürich: Scheidegger & Spiess.

  • Hofmannsthal Hugo von. 1957. Jedermann: Das Spiel vom Sterben des Reichen Mannes. In Gesammelte Werke: Dramen III [Collected Works: Plays III] 7–93. Frankfurt: S. Fischer.

  • Kaiser Georg. 1919. Von morgens bis mitternachts [From Morning to Midnight]. Berlin: S. Fischer.

  • Kasten Jurgen. 2003. On Karl Heinz Martin’s From Morn to Midnight. In Expressionist Film: New Perspectives ed. Dietrich Scheunemann 157–172. New York: Camden House.

  • King Pamela. 2008. Morality Plays. In The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre eds. Richard Beadle and Alan J. Fletcher 235–262. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Lambert Carole Jane. 1986. Anti-Rationalism in Symbolist Drama: Medieval Themes Circumstances and Symbols in the Plays of Maurice Maeterlinck Paul Claudel August Strindberg and Georg Kaiser. Unpublished PhD dissertation comparative literature University of California Berkeley.

  • Martin Karl Heinz dir. 1920. Von morgens bis mitternachts. Last accessed 27. 04. 2018.

  • Maurer Charles. 1971. Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

  • McCormick Richard W. 2001. Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film Literature and “New Objectivity.” New York: Palgrave.

  • Potter Robert. 1975. The English Morality Play: Origins History and Influence of a Dramatic Tradition. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Ritchie J. M. ed. 1971. From Morning to Midnight. In Five Plays: Georg Kaiser 17–73. London: Calder and Boyars.

  • Schreiber Earl G. 1975. Everyman in America. Comparative Drama vol. 9 no. 2: 99–115.

  • Schueler H. J. 1984. The Symbolism of Paradise in Georg Kaiser’s Von Morgens bis Mitternachts. Neophilologus no. 68: 98–104.

  • Speaight Robert. 1954. William Poel and the Elizabethan Revival. Melbourne London and Toronto: William Heinemann Ltd.

  • Stevens Martin. 1973. The Reshaping of Everyman: Hofmannsthal at Salzburg. The Germanic Review vol. 48 no. 2: 117–131.

  • Walk Cynthia. 2007. Cross-Media Exchange in Weimar Culture: Von morgens bis mitternachts. Monatshefte vol. 99 no. 2: 177–193.

  • Williams Rhys. 1988. Culture and Anarchy in Georg Kaiser’s ‘Von morgens bis mitternachts.’The Modern Language Review vol. 83 no. 2: 364–374.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 38 38 16
PDF Downloads 30 30 16