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The stubborn peasant family-stocks, the urban culture of the Hanseatic cities, and the scattered seats of the nobility, even as far east as the Russian Baltic provinces, bear witness to the development of a uniform temperament in spite of all the differences of social environment. Along the banks of the Rhine, on the other hand, there dwells in the same latitude a more vivacious people, whose mischievous cheerfulness and easy-going philosophy of life are manifestations of their Frankish blood.
In Middle Germany emotions are more deep-seated and more responsive; [Pg xix] people are more sentimental, more soft-hearted, more talkative, more visionary, have a finer sense of form, but a more conventional manner of speech. In this charming region of forests and mountains, to which the population is warmly attached and in which it finds protection, there is abundant occupation for a tender heart and a lively imagination. Fondness for music is especially prominent in the stocks in which there has been an infusion of Slavic elements.
In Upper Germany, accordingly, a sharp line is to be drawn between the Bavaro-Austrian and the Alemannic group. In Austria the capacity for sensuous enjoyment and a certain indolence are combined with a tendency toward sanguine but short-lived enthusiasms. A soft, southern air blows about the heights of Styria as well as over Vienna and its environs, and in the works of the writers of these regions Wilhelm Fischer-Graz, Rudolf Hans Bartsch everything is resolved into a lyrical mood and a melody of words.
In Bavaria, finally, people are even more rough and ready and lyrical sentimentality yields to a pugnacious propensity to ridicule, which gives satirical seasoning to the works of the genuinely Bavarian writers Ludwig Thoma and Joseph Ruederer. The sluggish Alemannians, on the contrary, lack the vivacity of the Bavaro-Austrian stock.
On the monotonous heights of the Swabian plateau are developed such brusque [Pg xx] individualism, tenacious self-will, peculiar humor inclined to self-depreciation, soaring fantasy, and withal there is no lack of comprehension for the ideas of domesticity such a predilection for adventures abroad as we find in the Swabian narrators Emil Strauss, Hermann Hesse, Ludwig Finckh, and Heinrich Lilienfein.
As the rough Alpine country demands the utmost of human industry, so in the realm of art it has developed a sympathy with practical, efficient life, which, disinclined to all speculation for Spitteler stands well-nigh alone in this matter , is rather under the sway of pedagogical interests. In Switzerland literature is most indissolubly bound up with the life of the whole people, and a gay art for art's sake cannot thrive.
Here are to be found true farmer-authors, such as Alfred Huggenberger, who still guides the plow across his fields, or poets who have risen from the ranks of handicraftsmen, such as Jakob Schaffner, or those who prosecute their literary avocation side by side with the business of a restaurateur, like Ernst Zahn. And no other of the compatriots of Pestalozzi J. By virtue of the inexhaustible riches which the Heimatkunst brought to light, the defiant rejection of the literature of the great cities has been rightly recognized as no mere theoretical programme.
The novel of urban life, such as flourished in Berlin, Vienna, and Munich at the close of the last century, is today antiquated and has lost its savor. And it is significant that the Berlin novel of the last few years, for example Georg Hermann's Jettchen Gebert or the two most recent works of Clara Viebig, [Pg xxi] prefers for its scene of action the Berlin of the seventies, which, as yet free from the modern German "South Sea Bubble," preserved for the inordinately growing city its old established local character.
An account of German narrative writing of the present time is a kind of ethnography of the German stocks and regions. The names above-mentioned, selected without prejudice and also without arbitrariness, ought to be represented here each with a specimen. In part, these authors have been represented in the preceding volumes.
The necessary limits of this volume permit consideration of only a dozen. The varieties of language and style which distinguish them one from another cannot fail to be somewhat obscured in a translation; nevertheless, the six pairs which we have arrayed according to racial affiliation and age are well adapted to give an impression of the manifoldness of German narrative prose at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Both have passed through the naturalistic school--for the former, indeed, naturalism marked only a period of transition; for the latter it meant conversion to a creed to which she has remained faithful. Exactly one hundred years after Schiller, in November, , she was born in Weimar, the daughter of a publisher whose name has become known chiefly in connection with the great Weimar edition of Goethe's complete works.
Her grandmother, "Grammie" as the children called the old lady, took to her heart the shy and timid girl and revealed to her from the recollections of her own youth the glory that once was and that still gleamed as a memory within the dim and narrow confines of the Thuringian capital city. When my grandmother was a child there ruled over this country a very wise and good prince who because of his goodness and wisdom had prevailed upon great poets then living to come and dwell in his city.
And because he was so exceedingly wise and was so beloved and honored by all, poets and scholars came from all sides, lived in the prince's city, and wrote there such splendid works that the whole world marveled. Even today what these men thought and wrote is the most beautiful thing that we know, and it will remain so for a long, long time to come. About these men everything conceivable has been often told and accurately described, and people will talk of them centuries hence.
But by their side there dwelt in the city in those days many men of whom nowadays no more mention is made. They too experienced joys and sorrows; they too had their day, felt deeply, were glad and sad, and had hearts like the others. Young Ernst von Schiller, the second son of the prematurely deceased poet, is their playmate; they make fun of August von Goethe as he goes a-wooing; they quarrel with the sour-visaged boor, Arthur Schopenhauer, as they go in and out of his mother's house, the novelist's; old Madam Kummerfeld, a former actress who in her youth had as Juliet inspired the Leipsic student Goethe, is their teacher in the art of sewing as well as making a courtly bow--which latter accomplishment they have occasion to practise when one day in the park they almost knock down the corpulent Grand Duke by running against him, and are then treated by him to good things to eat.
With his knowledge they slip into the theatre without tickets, and when they have witnessed a performance of Tasso at which Goethe is present, they are so impressed that they follow the poet as, wrapped in his cloak, [Pg xxiii] he strides home in the darkness, and for a while they continue to stare up admiringly at his lighted windows. Nevertheless, at the next moment they scramble over the wall of the neighboring house and help themselves to the beautiful lilies which bloom in old Wieland's garden. In these stories the historical personages, which with artistic discretion are kept in the background, constitute after all only a decorative element; in the foreground happy youthfulness disports itself in its irresponsibility.
A certain disgust with the colorless life of the philistine borough into which Weimar more and more degenerated after Goethe's death may be read between the lines of this apostrophe.
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Repelled by the gloomy humdrum and filled with dreams of past greatness as well as with longing for a more abundant life in the future, the young writer felt the close confinement of her home town. In this state of mind she met the man who proved to be her fate. The Orient furnished the German authoress with strikingly few motifs; but Munich, whither she later returned with her husband, became her second home.
On the bank of the Isar lies the scene of her best novel, The Switching Station In this book she is a disciple of naturalism, not merely in respect to the fidelity with which life in the art centre and the restless haste and nervous disorderliness in an artist's family are depicted, but also in the use of symbolism after the manner of Zola: for the switching station, with its purposeless turmoil, its disquietude, its pulling and hauling, is a symbol for the noisy [Pg xxiv] life in general, and in particular for the comfortless, hapless marriage in which a delicately organized artistic soul is worried to death.
From the point of view of literary art the immoderate formlessness of these partisan novels was an aberration; but meanwhile the writer has once more emancipated herself from such servitude to the cause.
The finest understanding for feminine characters, all of which are children of her heart, cannot indeed compensate for imperfect comprehension of the masculine way of thinking. In real life she has found the fulfilment of her longing in her husband, the strange prophet who as half a Turk gathered about himself in Munich a queer circle of auditors for his mystical Oriental philosophy. To his memory she erected a dutiful monument in her last work Isebies , an apology for her own life, her longing, her seeking, and her salvation. But even in this work the finest and the clearest portion is the narrative of her childhood in Weimar.
To this series belongs The Ball of Crystal with which our selections begin. Style and narrative art have matured; we have to do no longer with mere anecdote, as in the Tales of the Councillor's Girls , but with a more concentrated plot; the character of the heroine, which is symbolized by the title, is subjected to a more profound psychological diagnosis; but we are still taken with the same purity of [Pg xxv] heart as in the earlier narratives, and the quintessence of this book, as indeed of the entire literary personality of the authoress, may be found in the final words of the Tales of the Councillor's Girls : "The kind, the imperturbable, who with gentle readiness take good or evil as it comes--they are the real heroes, not those who face life bristling like a porcupine.
The only thing which can give our hearts peace and happiness on earth is good will toward men. Clara Viebig is a less gentle nature. She is a poetess not so much of the heart and soul as of the impulsive temperament and the strong will. There is not much to tell about the personal life of this authoress. After her father's death she came to Berlin to study music; here she became a writer, and now she is living as the wife of her publisher in the suburb of Zehlendorf. Her spiritual experiences are perhaps most clearly set forth in the novel Long Live Art The passionate struggles of a young authoress for literary success lead after many disappointed hopes and many disillusionments to the attainment of genuine good fortune in art and in domestic life as well.
On her native heath the despairing woman is cured of her despair--this typifies all the work of Clara Viebig, which reveals itself as pure Heimatkunst in advance of the time when this label gained currency. To be sure, it is a triple home that Clara Viebig can call her own, the Rhine country, eastern Germany, and Berlin.
As might be expected, the memories of childhood left the most lasting effect upon her. The Eifel, that bleak plateau between [Pg xxvi] the Moselle and the Rhine, with its broad melancholy heaths and bald craters of extinct volcanoes, with its dark lakes and lonely forests, is the district with which she is most familiar.
The hard-headed, moody, quick-tempered peasants, whose stubbornness befits the volcanic origin of their mountains, appear in her first collection of short stories, Children of the Eifel In the Eifel is situated the Women's Village , all the men of which seek their livelihood overseas, so that all the women swarm about the only man left at home, a cripple. The novel John Miller treats the tragedy of a rich man of the Eifel who goes to ruin in pride and blind presumption; The Cross in the Venn deals with the religious life of this district.
The struggle of racial incompatibilities which is here depicted with the most matter-of-fact objectivity, and which in a series of merry genre pictures is brought to a happy conclusion, is carried in another work to a frightfully serious tragic ending. The Sleeping Host takes us to the Prussian province of Posen and shows the effect of strife between German and Slavic elements, in the fate of Rhenish immigrants whose efforts to found a new home for themselves are brought to naught.
A second novel of the eastern frontier, Absolvo Te , is inferior to the first, not in power of characterization, but in range of subject. Still a third work treats the problem of a difference between blood and rearing, A Mother's Son The novel traces the development of the son of a peasant woman of the Eifel who has been adopted by a Berlin family and in whom, in spite of careful education, the evil disposition of his father comes to the surface. In this artificial treatment of the theory of heredity Clara Viebig's art does not appear to the best advantage; her [Pg xxvii] forte is rather unbiased objectivity and penetrating observation of every-day life.
The other novels having their scene in Berlin are distinguished for a keen sense for realities, as, for example, The Daily Bread , a treatment of the servant question which in the technique of Zola gives a panorama of the metropolis and of life in the lower strata. A rise above the level of naturalism may be noted in the fact that the last two novels of this author do not deal with the present but, like The Watch on the Rhine , revert to themes in the history of social development.
Those without the Gates depicts the fate of the suburbanites who are submerged in the gigantic organism of the growing city; the latest novel, Iron in the Fire , has for its subject the time from to , the time of expectation; an old-fashioned Berlin smithy is the scene, the fire in the forge and the power behind the hammer are symbols of the growth of the nation. Clara Viebig can compass no great characters or persons of superior intelligence; even men she hardly shows otherwise than in their sensual brutality.
She succeeds best with simple, vegetative natures of elemental instincts and eruptive passions, like the women of the Eifel, whose life of hardship, unhappiness in love, and maternal sorrows she knows how to represent with telling power. From the collection entitled Forces of Nature we have taken the story of a mother who for blind love of her son becomes an incendiary--a story which reveals in high degree the peculiar quality of this authoress.
The scenes of Clara Viebig's life and work are on a line running from west to east; the corresponding line for the following writers runs from north to south. Count Eduard Keyserling and Thomas Mann are both of North German [Pg xxviii] extraction and have both settled in Munich; both are moreover very similar in their high esthetic culture and in a certain languid aristocracy of feeling and ironical reticence; and their literary models Dickens, Thackeray, Balzac, Fontane were the same. Count Keyserling born in at Pelsz-Paddernin in Curland had the same experience as Fontane, in that he was late in developing his particular style in narrative composition.
When in the eighties he made his first appearance in literary circles in Munich, he essayed very naturalistic novels; his first, Rosa Herz deals with the fate of a poor victim of seduction.
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Thereupon followed a series of dramas Spring Sacrifice , , Stupid Jack , , Peter Hawel , which in their delicate atmosphere, their finished technique, and the interest of their dialogue deserved more attention than they received. Not until after the dawn of the new century did the author find his true vocation in the telling of tales of his home country. Beata and Mamie and Dumala are the great novels; Muggy Days and Gay Hearts are collections of short stories.
All revolve in the sphere of the East German country gentry, in their white castles reflected in lakes, in their garden pavilions, and on the broad tracts of their hunting preserves. It is always the same people with whom we have to do: imperious counts who wish to be admired and to enjoy themselves, and whose life consists of hunting, gaming, adultery, duelling, and ultimate return to impeccable correctness in their peaceful homes.
In this world, "hung with fine white curtains," there are women with the fine pallor of the old families, they also full of longing for freshly pulsating life. When, however, the yearned-for great experience finally knocks at their door, they draw back disappointed. Thus it was with young Countess Billy when she eloped with her Polish cousin.
It is not this writer's business to preach new, revolutionary ideas and views. He narrates typical cases with the [Pg xxix] dignified reserve of the skeptical man of the world, who knows how to weave in everywhere the comments of a shrewd philosophy of life, who bridles passion with strict self-control, and in the representation of the most tempestuous crises maintains sure mastery over expression and form.
The writer himself may share with his creations their longing for fresh elemental power; but he is endowed with far too much of the traditional culture of his caste ever to allow himself any obstreperous accents. The words of one of his dramatic figures characterize his own art: "We no longer know how to underscore. Underscoring is in bad taste. Those people out there live on underscoring.
Longing for abundant pulsating life, and autumnal renunciation on the part of a decaying family, are also among the principal motifs in the work of Thomas Mann. On the contrary, the normal, proper, and lovely is the realm of our longing, is life in its seductive banality! He is far from being an artist, whose last and deepest yearning is for the superrefined, the eccentric and satanical, who knows no longing for the innocent, the simple and living, for a little friendship, devotion, confidential familiarity, and human happiness--the furtive and consuming longing for the raptures of the common place!
Mann is much more subjective than Keyserling. In all the experiences of his characters he is mirrored himself, and all of his writings make and repeat one and the same confession as the foundation of his art, the solitude of the artist. The cleft which separates two worlds is recognizable in his very parentage. In his elder brother Heinrich Mann, perhaps a more ingenious, but a less finished writer, of the nervous, ardently passionate, impressionistic sort, the exotic heritage has tended to predominate; in Thomas Mann the correctness of the austere Hanseatic city and her old traditions seems to be the strongest element.
Because he cannot escape the exasperating incompatibility between citizen and artist, between the instinct for conformity and the will to be different, he fights this battle again and again, and bitter meditation upon it has given him the themes of his principal works. Mann's chief work, indubitably one of the best German novels of the last decades, is entitled The Buddenbrooks , the Degeneration of a Family In four generations, whose representatives are placed before us with uncommon plasticity and lifelikeness, the decaying family slowly passes across the stage.
From generation to generation the robust, sober business sense is poisoned with a greater and greater infection of morbid feelings and hypersensitive nerves, until finally the vitality of the family goes out like a burnt-up candle. A tragedy of the Renaissance, Fiorenza , develops the dualism between real life and artistic existence, between the proud joy of living and ascetic hostility to life, in two brothers of the house of Medici, Lorenzo and Girolamo, who are suitors for the hand of one and the same woman.
The following novel, His Royal Highness , shows how a prince, educated in aloofness from [Pg xxxi] life, is saved from a living death through love for an American heiress. Finally, there appeared only last year a masterpiece in the most exquisite style, the narrative Death in Venice It is a heart-felt confession, taking as its theme the chilling apprehension of approaching old age and death.
In the late-awakening impulse of love for a young boy there is here a generally misunderstood symbol of longing for life. The figure of the hero, Gustav Aschenbach, evidently furnishes a key to unlock many mysteries in the artistic work of the author:. He never knew the leisure, never the careless unconcern of youth. When in his thirty-fifth year he fell ill in Vienna, a keen observer once remarked about him in company, "You see, Aschenbach has always lived like this"--and he clenched his left fist--"never this way"--and he let his open hand dangle from the arm of his chair. That was indeed the case; and the moral valor about Aschenbach was that his constitution was in no sense robust, and that though called to unremitting exertion, he was not really born to it With a strong will and tenacity comparable to that which had subdued his native province, he worked for years under the stress of one and the same task, and devoted to its proper accomplishment all of his strongest and best hours.
He almost loved the enervating, daily-renewed combat between his tenacious, proud, and often tried willpower, and this ever-growing fatigue, which was his secret and which the product should in no wise betray by signs of exhaustion or indifference. Thomas Mann resembles his hero in being comparatively unproductive; but it should be added at once that no one of his works fails to exhibit the utmost of artistic finish. Unrelaxing attention and indefatigable effort to attain artistic form are the heritage of his North German descent, of which he perhaps became fully conscious in South Germany, in the city of more easy-going habits of life.
Such a successful caricature splendidly embodies the stagnating spirit of the blissfully idyllic town which the metropolis of Bavaria has remained in spite of all its growth. And yet, in no other German city is there so high a degree of artistic culture, and the odor of Munich beer seems to furnish a more favorable atmosphere for the creative artist than the prestissimo of life in Berlin, which steels the nerves of the energetic, rushing man of business.
There are two sides to everything: the motto of the indolent man of Munich, "Let me alone" Mei Rua will i ham gives to art that which it needs above all else, time, contemplativeness, freedom. Nowhere can one so unrestrainedly cultivate one's own style of life as there. And withal, artistic freedom of life accommodates itself remarkably well with the political narrowness of the country under Clerical rule.
The Bavarian phlegmatic temperament craves constant stimulation; the political strife, in which there is no embittered fanaticism, but which in all good nature sways backward and forward, is an indispensable condition of the national life.
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Combativeness and the lust of vituperation are in the blood of the Bavarian people; it is all one, whether we look for them in a riotous kirmess or in blunt ridicule, in the poetic improvisations of which the quick-witted peasants, being especially gifted in mimicry, are unsurpassed. Bavaria is accordingly the particular home of German satire. The best German comic papers are published in Munich, and the most effective satirist of the present day is a Bavarian of the Bavarians, Ludwig Thoma. He is the [Pg xxxiii] son of a Head Forester and was born in at that Oberammergau where all the inhabitants every ten years dismiss the barber and let their long locks curl about their necks, in order to perform before the assembled multitude their Passion Play, which is pleasing in the sight of God and profitable to them.
Thoma not only grew up among peasants; later, as a lawyer in Dachau, he had abundant opportunity to become acquainted with their fondness for litigation, their avarice, and their cunning. Now he is merely an author. In winter he may be seen at Munich in company garb at first performances in the theatres; in summer, at Tegernsee he appears in the midst of his beloved peasants dressed in their costume, homespun jacket and leather breeches.
In the same way his writings have two aspects, satire on society and tales of rustic life. In the comic paper Simplicissimus he has often published political verses over the pseudonym Peter Schlemihl; some of his dramas also The Medal , , The Branch Road , , The First-class Compartment , , The Baby Farm , assail with never-failing pungency the present governmental system in Bavaria; others Morality , , Lottie's Birthday , are directed with more general and less delicate ridicule against all sorts of common place morality and the excrescences of moral reform.
Delicious are his stories of the little town, especially about the pranks that give expression to boyish impulses to incommode teachers, stern neighbors, and maiden aunts. The philistine population of the little town, Bavarian administration of justice, scenes in the Munich street cars, and many another subject of that kind, Thoma humorously treats in Judge Charlie and Tales of the Little Town , in the broad anecdotal style which he has made his own.
His other subject is peasant life. In this too he begins as a satirist, with his collection Agricola ; and the [Pg xxxiv] manner in which he at first indulges in grotesque exaggeration of popular traits appears best perhaps in the introduction to the book, "adapted from Tacitus":. The German plain from the river Danube to the Alps is inhabited by the Baiovarii. I regard them as the original inhabitants of this land, self-raised, as they call themselves in their own tongue. It is difficult for immigrants to mingle with them.
It is certain that foreigners could never be confounded with the autochthonous folk.
Since this Germanic stock has remained free from contamination through intermarriage with alien nations, it constitutes a separate, uniform race. Hence the same figure in all the representatives of this numerous nation, the same uncommonly developed hands and feet, the same hard, impenetrable formation of the head. Like their ancestors, they are fit for violent assault, and fond of it. They show great capacity for the endurance of fatigue and tribulation; the only thing they cannot endure is thirst.
This people is equipped with manifold weapons; but even in these they have more regard for usefulness than for beauty. Widespread is the short dagger which every mature man carries in the fold of his garment; but the use of it is not permitted--on the contrary, the powers that be seek to get possession of all such; whereupon the common man replaces the lost weapon by another.
As missiles they have earthen mugs, with handles which make them likewise adaptable for delivering blows. At their gathering places every man, when strife arises, seeks to possess himself of as many of these as possible, and hurls them then uncommonly far. Most of the Baiovarii carry a sort of spear, or in their language, "chaser", made of the hazel of their forests, with blunt end, supple, and very handy. In the lack of these weapons, each man assumes any that chance may offer. Indeed, for this purpose even articles of household furniture, such as tables and chairs, are robbed of their supports.
In high favor are also the constituent parts of garden inclosures. Before the beginning of the conflict the battle song resounds. It is not as though human throats, but rather as though the spirit of war were singing. They essay chiefly the formation of wild sounds, and close their eyes as though thereby to reinforce their utterance. They fight without a preconsidered plan of battle, each at the place that he occupies. Of shields they make no employment. The head is deemed a natural protection, which meets the shock of the attacking enemy and guards the rest of the body.
Many even use the head for the purposes of attack, when other weapons fail. In this ridicule of savage pugnacity one cannot fail to see the secret love of the writer for the uncouth power of [Pg xxxv] his sound-hearted and sound-limbed compatriots. This same love explains the contempt in which Thoma holds the sentimental depiction of parlor peasants which is so often met with in family magazines.
He knows no glossing-over, and what is boorish in his peasants, he leaves boorish. But more and more he has developed from a satirist to a serious moralist of his native land. In his stories Wedding and Matt the Holy the satirical purpose predominates. But then, in his great novels, Thoma proceeds to more serious matters. But when satire fails to amuse for bitterness, and humor fails to conciliate, the pictures become almost too gloomy and the moral purpose too obtrusive.
Thus it is in the novel The Widower The folly of a lustful old peasant who in the toils of a scheming hussy supinely looks on while his property goes to wrack and ruin and his son becomes a murderer, is here treated with too harsh a naturalism. The same may be said of the drama Magdalena , in which a rustic Virginius makes of himself the judge of his daughter who has fallen into a life of public shame. Rosegger's Styrian peasants are, in spite of the pessimistic Sylvan Schoolmaster , drawn after all with much more extenuating gentleness.
More recent literary products of Styrian writers are, however, no whit inferior in local patriotism to the works of the still living first master. The warmest praise of his home land has been sung by Rudolf [Pg xxxvi] Hans Bartsch who, born in at Graz, lived for many years as an officer in Vienna, until in he returned as a retired captain to his native city. After an historical novel When Austria Disintegrated , which dealt with the epoch of Forty-eight, and was reissued under the title The Last Student , Bartsch celebrated his greatest triumph with the novel Twelve Men of Styria , a book of inexhaustible, exuberant youthfulness and contagious optimism.
The careers of the twelve youths who meet on the common ground of love for the beautiful Frau von Karminell, and who set out together on the stormy path of life, are only loosely connected; and yet the book achieves a unified effect, thanks to the wonderful musical atmosphere which is its element, and to the pivotal position in it of province and city: "Graz, city lost in the expanse of nature, so still, so receptive and yet fulfilled as no other is with soft impressiveness; the green-dreaming, tree-rustling, gentle-singing city of Graz, animate beyond all great cities with the soul of nature.
Bartsch was indeed led to this theme by an elective affinity; for he is inspired in equal measure by love of music and love for Old Vienna, and he is capable of entering with entire sympathy into the spirit of former times. To this capacity his short stories entitled The Last Days of Rococo bear eloquent testimony, conjuring up as [Pg xxxvii] they do with charming winsomeness the spirit of the epoch that preceded the French Revolution.
The second collection of narratives, Bitter-Sweet Love Stories , brings us back to Austrian territory. To this collection belongs The Styrian Wine Carrier , in which the ancient carefree joyfulness of the highway falls a victim to the modern rush of business. Is not the fate of the amiable, easy-going, reveling Styrian symbolical of the fate of the whole country of Austria, which is organized on the outgrown plan of a former generation, and is now placed in opposition to the iron necessity of modern progress?
Bartsch has deeply felt the incompatibilities rooted in the Austrian character: there are two souls, one desperately clinging to the Austria of the good old times, to the long-lost lovely Vienna of the coach and post-horn, the other the soul of turbulent young Austria, with its eye on the knotty problems of the future. But the enervating atmosphere of literary Vienna, which Grillparzer once characterized as a "Capua in the world of spirits," is the natural element of Old Austria, and we suspect that Bartsch, whose rapid productivity defies stern artistic self-discipline, has not altogether escaped its dangers.
The Alemannic races on the Upper German territories reveal a greater toughness of fibre and more power of resistance. They are blunt individualists, whose love of country utters itself with less enthusiasm and attains to perfect certainty perhaps only after a longing for adventures abroad has been stilled.
Emil Strauss, the older of the two Swabian writers here represented he was born at Pforzheim in , lived for a while in Brazil; from his experiences there he derived material for some of his stories in The Ways of Men , for his drama, unsuccessful from the point of view of technique, Don Pedro , and for his first novel Mine Host of the Angel , the tragi-comical history of a man who learns by experience, who deserts his wife and after a long series of disappointments returns humbled [Pg xxxviii] to his home. The later narrative Mara , in the collection entitled Hans and Grete , is also the fruit of exotic experiences.
This account of a love in imagination has the same motif as one of the most original narratives of the Swiss Spitteler, Imago , with the only difference that in Mara over-excitation of the brain is motivated by tropical heat. Strauss is in all of his narratives an extremely acute psychologist, who everywhere concentrates his attention upon the development of character, and whose work, as appears in Mine Host of the Angel , is inclined toward a mild didacticism.
This is especially noticeable in the work that first made his name famous, the novel Death the Comforter Freund Hein , , the story of a boy of musical disposition who is worried to death in school. Compared with English and American literature, German literature has been said to be poor in stories of childhood. This criticism hardly applies to the new century, which has been called the century of the child. The fate of little Henry Lindner who is to be transformed by hook or by crook from a dreamy musician into a circumspect efficient man, and who suffers shipwreck on the reefs of mathematics, reminds us in many ways of the tragedy of the last Buddenbrook, Hanno, whose delicate sensibility is crushed out by the discipline of the school.
These were the most successful novels of those years; Strauss' Death the Comforter is, next to the conclusion of Buddenbrooks , the poetically most significant of these stories of childhood. The writer, rich in comprehension of the vitality of the problems and in the delicacy of his treatment of them, has not had to repeat himself: his novel Friction is a fine psychological study in the form of a love story, in which life undertakes the education of two recalcitrant [Pg xxxix] lovers; and his latest work, The Naked Man , is a powerful historical novel.
Hermann Hesse, who is often grouped with Strauss, is, in spite of his belonging to the same stock, a different nature; he is more of a lyricist, and his lyrical poems, though less well known, take perhaps a higher rank than his novels. Even in these the lyrical mood outweighs the human action; he ponders the riddles of nature more earnestly than the riddles of humanity.
Among human beings, however, his favorite is the gentle St. Francis of Assisi, to whom he has devoted a splendid little book. After fleeing from the Theological Seminary at Moulbronn he became a machinist; then he worked in a bookstore at Basel, where he found opportunity to study at the University. He spent a few years at Munich, and finally made Switzerland his home by establishing himself in the neighborhood of Bern.
In respect to literary relations he had even before this acquired a certain right to be called a Swiss; for his work may be regarded as a continuation of the line of development that runs from Jean Paul to Gottfried Keller. There is a kind of resurrection of Jean Paul in the wonderful descriptions of nature, the dreams of universal love and natural piety, which we find in Hesse's first great novel Peter Camenzind ; no writer since Jean Paul has bestowed such eloquent praise upon the clouds:.
Show me in all the wide world the man who knows the clouds better and loves them more than I do! Or show me the thing in the world that is more splendid than the clouds! They are playthings and balm for the eyes, they are a blessing and divine gift, they are wrath and omnipotent death. They are frail, tender, and peaceful, like the souls of the newly born; they are beautiful, opulent, and lavish, like good angels; they are dark, unescapable, and pitiless, like the messengers of death.
They hover in silvery thin expanse, they sail laughingly white with a golden rim, they stand at rest in yellow, red, and bluish tints; they creep up slowly and darkly threatening like murderers, they rush with a headlong roar like [Pg xl] mad horsemen, they hang sad and pensive at equal heights like melancholy hermits. They have the forms of blessed isles and the forms of blessing angels; they are like threatening hands, fluttering sails, a flight of cranes. They float between God's heaven and the poor earth as fair symbols of all human longings, akin to both--dreams of the earth, in which her sullied soul flies to the embrace of the pure heaven.
They are the eternal symbol of all wandering, all seeking, desiring, all homesickness. And as they hang timidly and yearningly and persistently between earth and heaven, so the souls of men hang timidly and yearningly and persistently between time and eternity. From Gottfried Keller, on the other hand, Hesse has derived the specific gravity of realism; and so the romantic life of the peasant boy Peter Camenzind concludes, after protracted roving through Italy and France, like that of Green Henry, with a weary, resigned return home.
The novel On the Rack , which represents a falling off after this brilliant beginning, was followed by a new efflorescence in Hesse's artistry with the novels Gertrude and the latest work Rosshalde , a story of matrimony which combines the former merits of poetic atmosphere with the merit of a greater concentration upon action.
Between the two lie the collections of short stories On this Side and Neighbors From the second is taken the story here translated, In the Old Sun , which as an idyll of the Poorhouse has something of the qualities of Gottfried Keller, while the mystic setting is quite the property of the Swabian author. From the half-Swiss author Hermann Hesse to the full-blooded Swiss novelists is but a short step.
Among these, Ernst Zahn is the most widely read and the most fruitful. In particular, his fellow-countrymen are no longer quite willing to regard him as the Swiss novelist par excellence. And yet Zahn is himself the very incarnation of a fundamental trait of Swiss character; namely, the peculiar blending of practical common sense and esthetic culture. Where else than in this veritable democracy could one and the same man day in and day out serve soup to thousands of travelers, sit down at his desk after the day's work was done and gather about him the children of his imagination, and then on the morrow as president of the diet guide the deliberations of representatives of his canton of Uri?
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His three professions of public man, innkeeper, and author, Zahn upholds with undiscriminating pride. At the last stop before entrance into the darkness of the Gotthard tunnel many a traveler to Italy has doubtless been struck by the classic features and the proud bearing of the restaurateur, without knowing that he saw before him the most widely read story-writer in the German language. As to his private life Zahn published a few years ago in the magazine The Literary Echo a few details from which we quote the following:.
German female writers
Little room with the writing table, the tall book-cases, the few pictures on the wall, and the immovable, grand, curious mountain always peering in at thy window--little room with the great hubbub all about thee, of [Pg xlii] thee I am to speak, and of him who sits within thy coziness! It is not difficult to speak of thee: thou art a home, peaceful and lost to the world, although the life of the world surges around thee like the sea around an island. Behind thou hast the rumble of carts going hither and thither all summer long over three mountain passes, and before, the daily rattle and roar of the great railway trains of the Gotthard.
And yet thou art peaceful and hast taught me that it is better to dwell in thee than in the bustling world, and hast taught me that I do not need many men to make me happy in thee From the writing table there is every few minutes a call to the dining rooms on the ground floor, where the author is metamorphosed into a victualler.
Many persons shake their heads at this transformation. To me the profession of my father is an object of affection; I owe it an assured livelihood. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Condition: Etat satisfaisant. Une annotation sur la page de garde. Langue : Allemand Nb de volumes : 1.
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