Twilight: A Drama in Five Acts
- Author: Elsa Bernstein
- Translator: Susanne Kord
- Pages: xlii & 145 pp.
- Published: 2003
- ISBN: 9780873529280 (Paperback)
“Kord’s introduction and the extensive critical apparatus, including notes and bibliography, are comprehensive and relevant to the interests of both the curious casual reader and the scholar who intends to make serious study of Bernstein’s life and work.”
“This introduction to Elsa Bernstein is excellent. . . . The account given of the reception history of the play is particularly fascinating and thoroughly researched; reception history is a crucial element in understanding this once famous, now far less widely known Jewish woman writer.”
“The translation is accurate, idiomatic, dramatic. A most impressive feat.”
Elsa Bernstein lived at the center of Munich’s cultural life from the 1890s into the next century. Her literary salon was frequented by such authors as Rainer Maria Rilke, Theodor Fontane, Henrik Ibsen, and Thomas Mann. Her plays, written under the pseudonym Ernst Rosmer, are noteworthy for their unconventional female figures, uninhibited language, taboo subjects, and realistic detail. Susanne Kord, the editor and translator of Twilight, discusses the reception of Bernstein’s works—at first enthusiastic, then increasingly sexist—and the theme, in Twilight, of the culturally sanctioned oppression of women.
In this naturalist drama, a woman eye surgeon treats the daughter of a man who is prejudiced against educated women. Her successful treatment wins the father’s affection for her, and they fall in love. She is ready to give up medicine for wedded bliss—her wish is to become “very happily stupid”—but finds misery instead.