Article Title

The Urner Tellenspiel of 1512: Strategies of Early Political Drama


Martin W. Walsh


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The early sixteenth-century text known as the Urner Tellspiel or Tellenspiel (The Canton Uri Tell Play) has been called the earliest political drama of the German language.1 Given Switzerland's role as the avant-garde of Western democracy, it might well be considered the first purely secular, political drama of Western Europe. As the first theatrical treatment of the Wilhelm Tell saga, it is naturally overshadowed by its illustrious descendant, the great romantic drama of Schiller. Even in its own century this anonymous "folk" drama was recast into a more respectable literary form by Jakob Ruf of Zurich. It is this 1545, post-Reformation version that has received the lion's share of critical attention among scholars of the early Swiss stage. My purpose here will be to examine the earlier play, this first-ever "political drama." I shall be asking some basic questions. How might the piece have been realized? What were its original intentions? What dramatic strategies did it employ?

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.