Elektra (Hugo von Hofmannsthal)

Elektra is a drama (later turned opera libretto) written by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It’s based on Sophocles‘ play.
Finished on: 21.11.2018

After Agamemnon returned from the Trojan war, his wife Klytaemnestra and her lover Aegith killed him and took over power. Their children survived: Orest was hidden and raised to avenge his father’s death, Chrysothemis tried to keep her head down and just survive, and Elektra devoted her time to remembering her father and dreaming of revenge. But now it appears that Orest has died in his exile without being able to fulfill his duty and Elektra has to see what she can do about that.

Elektra is an interesting play, but one that isn’t easily read – I would like to see it performed to see if I would react differently to it. (I’m not sure if I would enjoy the opera version, though.)

The book cover showing an image of the author himself.

I’m afraid that reading this drama took away from its emotionality a little too much. I mean, the events are definitely tragic, but somehow reading it kept all of it at too much of a distance. This isn’t always the case when you read plays, but I assume that Elektra is one of the plays that really come together when perfomed, not when read. Especially since its most known form is an opera and music itself just adds another layer of emotionality.

I’m pretty sure that the teenage me – who was definitely more emo than adult me is – would have thrown herself into the drama and the pain and those big, big emotions. And not to mention the blood. There is a lot of that too, as is only fitting for an ancient Greek tragedy.

There are some very nice turns of phrases here that I did appreciate in the written form. Hofmannsthal definitely knows how to handle words. Plus, Elektra is a fascinating character, complex and stuck in a difficult position. A woman who gets to be (justly) angry, but who is also consumed by that anger in a way that is far from healthy. In the end, she is nothing but anger – and what happens when the source for that anger is taken away?

I definitely found it interesting and engaging enough to consider going to the play should it be performed somewhere close, but I wasn’t taken with it that much that I will be looking very hard for it.

Summarizing: Not bad.

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