Hauptmann, Germany's outstanding playwright of the naturalist school, was by nature an experimenter. He was a strange mixture: sometimes a revolutionary, as in his greatest play, The Weavers (1892); sometimes the compassionate creator, as in Hannele (1893), about a beggar girl dreaming of heaven. The Sunken Bell (1897), his most famous drama, is an allegorical verse play on the quest for an ideal, similar in theme to Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Hauptmann won the Nobel Prize in 1912 and was given an honorary degree by Columbia University in 1932, at which occasion he delivered an oration on Goethe. Hauptmann is one of the most widely performed German playwrights. He stands as a landmark between the… classic and the modern theater. "The heroes of his plays were not from either the ruling class or the bourgeoisie, but almost always from the masses... .By 1913, Hauptmann's naturalism was known throughout the world" (N.Y. Times). Hauptmann deserves no less fame as a writer of prose. His earlier works, such as Thiel the Crossing Keeper (1888), show him at his strongest in the naturalistic mode. His characters are enslaved by their environment and by their own drives, especially the sex drive. In the Heretic of Soana (1918) Hauptmann concentrates on the power of the sexual urge in man in the story of the priest who gave up his church for the love of a woman, but he has moved away from the brooding excesses of naturalism. Frowned upon by the Nazis for having been a prominent figure under the Republic, which once favored nominating him for the presidency, Hauptmann never spoke out against Nazi tyranny but shook hands with Goebbels and accepted a medal. Yet when he died at his home in the Silesian Mountains, he had been about to move to East Berlin at the invitation of the Soviet Military Government. These events were forgotten or ignored during the 1962 centennial celebrations of his birth in the two Germanys.