(Borgia - the Italian-Spanish aristocratic family which re...)
Borgia - the Italian-Spanish aristocratic family which reached great power in the period of the Italian Renaissance. The Borgia family gave the Catholic world two dozen cardinals and two Popes (Calixtus III, 1455 - 1458; Alexander VI, 1492 - 1503). Pope Alexander VI considerably expanded borders of the territories controlled by the Vatican and turned it into the centralized state. He was also known as a patron of the arts. Many architectural works in Rome were performed on his initiative. At the same time the name of Borgia became a synonym of dissoluteness, perfidy, and corruption. The elevation of his relatives by any means was a more important task for Alexander VI than the reform of the Church and consolidation of its moral authority. Political opponents of Alexander VI branded him as "a debauchery monster.” Italy was filled with rumours about incestuous relationships of his daughter Lucrecia not only with the father, but also with her three brothers. Alexander VI also had a reputation as "Satan’s druggist" - a maniacal murderer by poisoning. Contemporaries suspected that the Pope poisoned rich cardinals when he needed money. By tradition the property of cardinals after their death was returned to the papal treasury. Now, historians believe not everything attributed to Alexander Borgia was true, but it is hardly possible to separate the real events and the myth.
Diagnosed as tubercular in 1906, Henschke was nonetheless able to pursue his studies of literature and philosophy at universities in Lausanne, Munich and Berlin.
Henschke's first published works were erotic poems that appeared in 1913 in the journal Pan. The atheist philosophy expressed in one of these poems led to his prosecution for blasphemy.
Until this time Klabund had published under his given name, Alfred Henschke, but, beginning with Morgenrot! Klabund! Die Tage Daemmern!, employed the pseudonym under which he would publish all his subsequent works - Klabund. During the First World War, he supported German interests and published two collections of patriotic war poetry. Toward the end of the war, however, Klabund became a vocal opponent of the government, publishing his call for the Kaiser’s abdication in the Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung and serving a prison sentence for his alleged involvement with the revolutionary Spartakus movement.
Throughout his career, Klabund’s commitment to his writing and his political activities, which were generally expressions of his concern for pacifist causes, were complicated by his tuberculosis. In 1925 he achieved popular and literary success with The Circle of Chalk, a drama that was widely translated and performed throughout Europe.
Klabund’s most important works as a poet, dramatist and novelist focus on contemporary political issues and autobiographical subjects. His poems take their subject matter from a variety of sources, including the Berlin lumpen proletariat, as in the case of Die Harfenjule, a political work advocating the plight of the destitute; German folk songs, evident in Klabund’s cabaret lyrics; and personal experience, exemplified by the ballad “Totenklage,” written in mourning after the death of his first wife. Klabund also found sources for his poetry in Chinese literature. His “translations” were popular with readers and critics, an indication of his dexterity as a writer, since his knowledge of Chinese was rudimentary and he depended almost entirely on French versions of the originals.
Klabund’s interest in Chinese literature led to his reworking of the parable play Hoei lan kia, written by Li Hsingtao during the Yuan Dynasty (1259-1368) and rendered by Klabund as The Circle of Chalk. The original play combines verse and prose in representing a young woman’s struggle to prove her innocence before a corrupt court controlled by a despotic government. Klabund’s drama introduces the melodramatic subplot of the travails of separated lovers and abandons the original stress placed upon the theme of justice. Klabund’s romanticized version of the Chinese drama, particularly his investigation of morality and ethics, strongly influenced Bertolt Brecht’s play Der kaukasische Kreidekreis (1948; The Caucasian Chalk Circle).
Like his poetry and drama, Klabund’s fiction is concerned with both the personal and political. Along with such autobiographical works as Spuk and Die Krankheit, Klabund also wrote allegorical novels, including Pjotr (Peter the Czar), Borgia (The Incredible Borgias), and Bracke (Brackie, the Foot), which is considered his greatest prose work. While Klabund’s novels make use of historical subjects, they are thinly veiled critiques of the corruption and authoritarianism that he perceived in the Weimar government.
Klabund’s other novels, like Brackie, the Fool, are regarded as effective satires that avoid sacrificing artistry to ideology.
Henschke's pseudonym was formed from (Kla)bautermann (“hobgoblin”) and Vaga(bund) (“wanderer”) and defined by Klabund as “change”. In both his life and work Klabund fulfilled the intentions declared in his pseudonym.
Henschke married Brunhilde Herberle in 1918. Unfortunately, she died from tuberculosis that same year. In 1923 he remarried Carola Neher.