Siegfried: A Play in Four Acts

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L. MacVeagh, The Dial Press, 1930 - Amnesia - 165 pages
We are introduced to Siegfried as the new national hero of Germany, an amnesiac survivor of WWI who sprang from unknown origins to lead the country into a new period of modernization and prosperity. Baron von Zelten opposes Siegfried's project, loving the old German folk traditions. He also is one of the only Germans to know the truth about the new leader: he is actually a French soldier and writer, Jacques Forestier. A field nurse, Eva, had nursed back to health knowing his real nationality but taking advantage of his amnesia to reeducate him as a German. In hopes of preserving the cultural heritage of his people, Zelten brings Siegfried's lover, Genevieve, to the German town of Gotha, ostensibly to give lessons in French, but really in hopes that she may restore his memory. Ironically, Zelten and Genevieve dash Siegfried's self-conception as the symbol of a new Germany precisely by revealing the soldier's true identity. A struggle ensues between the notion of identity as defined by one's birth and blood ties, and the idea that identity is something one can create in a vacuum; Eva and Genevieve take these opposing points of view, attempting to help the national hero of Germany. In the course of the political turmoil that results, Zelten is banished, but Siegfried leaves to resume his old life in France with Genevieve.

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