- (1813 - 37) German playwright, who was a major influenceon both naturalism and expressionism, despite writingonly three plays (one unfinished) before his death at the age of 23.Born at Goddelau, the son of an army doctor, Büchner studiedmedicine at Strasbourg and Giessen. He was a political radical whofounded a revolutionary society and had to flee to Strasbourg. In1836 he began to teach natural science in Zürich but died a yearlater of typhoid fever.
His plays, which reacted against the romanticism of Schillerand others, are filled with morbid pessimism, violence, and a deepsympathy for the oppressed. His first work, Dantons Tod (Danton'sDeath), written in 1835 but not staged until 1903 in Berlin,took a sombre look at the French Revolution. In Britain, it enjoyedan impressive revival at the National Theatre in 1971 under the directionof Jonathan Miller. Leonce und Lena was another attack on romanticism,written in 1836, published in 1850, but not performed until 1885 inMunich. The incomplete Woyzeck, written in 1836 and firstperformed in 1913 in Vienna, has been acclaimed as the forerunnerof the social dramas of the last decade of the 19th century. The plotconcerns the insanity and eventual suicide of the title character.