Ilse Langner is a German writer whose life and work cross three different and crucial periods of the German history, such as the Weimar Republic, the following Nazi regime and the years after the Second World War. The essay aims at examining her mythological plays and is therefore divided into three main parts, each discussing the development of Ilse Langner’ s ‘work on myth’ from her very first play,' Amazonen', which, together with her interviews, letters and short essays, shows a rather naïve optimism about the years to come and the evolution of the Third Reich, up to the latest plays, characterized by the ongoing presence of Iphigenia’s character, a figure who eventually embodies both the writer’s guilty feeling and a newly acquired self-consciousness. The first part deals mostly with the cultural background of Langner’ s mythological plays. Actually, even though most of these dramas were written during the Nazi era and the war, they are closely linked to the political and social environment of the Weimar Republic. The relationship between the use of mythology and Langner’ s attitude to the major political issues of her time as well as her conception of art as ‘art for art’s sake’ are discussed in the second part, along with some leading characters of her dramas: Clytemnestra, Electra, and Iphigenia. The third part focuses on the character of Iphigenia, which, especially after the war, slowly becomes a strong identification figure for Ilse Langner, since both come to accept their own destiny, made of a peaceful loneliness, and that of their own country.
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