The Lulu Plays
Translated by Stephen Spender
Two of Wedekind’s most seminal plays, Earth-Spirit and Pandora’s Box both focus on the actions of the young heroine Lulu, who embodies both animal sensuality and waif-like innocence, as she escapes a life on the streets, receives a society education, marries, takes on various lovers, becomes a dancer in a revue, is imprisoned for murder and encounters Jack the Ripper.
When Earth-Spirit was premiered in Leipzig in 1898, Wedekind was vilified and persecuted for advocating unfeigned sexual pleasure and making his heroine a heartless whore. Death and Devil and Castle Wetterstein, the other plays that make up this volume, are essentially extensions of and complementary to the Lulu tragedies.
Frank Wedekind (1864–1918) was a playwright, poet, journalist, actor and cabaret singer, whose works revolutionized European literature, and also once caused him to be imprisoned for nine months for lèse-majesté.