Re-Working Shakespeare: Heiner Müller’s Macbeth


University of Bucharest


This article focuses on particular meanings of the term “work,” as related first to the process of adapting Shakespeare and secondly to the ideological and philosophical resonances of this term as employed in the socialist propaganda in East Germany and which Heiner  Müller introduces into Shakespeare’s text and gives an ironical twist to. In the first part it points to a few aspects of East German doctrinaire readings of Shakespeare, which were further contested and deconstructed in Müller’s translation cum adaptation. The final part zooms in on the reconfiguring of the established meanings attached to the concept of work in Müller’s rewriting of Macbeth and on the relation between these meanings and the philosophy of history he proposes in his adaptation.

Keywords: Shakespeare, Heiner Müller, Macbeth, rewriting, Jan Kott, violence, socialist realism, GDR