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Hebbel, Christian Friedrich

Hebbel, Christian Friedrich krĭs´tyän frē´drĭkh hĕb´əl [key], 1813–63, German tragic dramatist. Born poor, he was largely self-educated. Hegel's historical theories influenced his work, which is a link between romantic and realist drama. Hebbel's first play, Judith (1840, tr. 1914), introduced a new type of tragic character, heroic through degradation and retribution rather than through virtue. Other works include Maria Magdalena (1844, tr. 1913–15) the historical tragedies Herod and Mariamne (1850, tr. 1912) and Agnes Bernauer (1852, tr. 1909) Gyges and His Ring (1856, tr. 1914) and the great trilogy The Nibelungs (1862, tr. 1903). His tragedies contain much violent emotion, and they usually portray a struggle between old and new sets of values.

See studies by S. G. Flygt (1968) and M. Garland (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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