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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

2                      MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

The state of literature in 1880 was respectable but stagnant, In
lyric verse the scholarly poets of the Munich school had achieved
a perfection of form which is apt to weary by its monotony and
lack of rude masculinity; its themes were decent but hackneyed;
and even the outer appearance of the volumes was used to typify
it in the term of opprobrium, Goldschnittlyrik, cast at it by the new
school A flood-tide of verse tales in facile rhythms had followed
Scheffel's Trompeter von Sakfeingen (1854); Julius Wolff (1834-1910)
continued to pour out his rhymed romances till near the end of
the century. The exhaustion of the novel is seen in two genres,
that of the sentimental tale which had its strongholds in the family
journals (particularly Die Gartenlaube) and the historical novel, the
so-called Professorenrowan or archdologischer 'R.oman. The vogue of
the historical novel is to be explained by the hypertrophied race-
consciousness which was the result of the victories ofiSyo1: from
the glory of the present novelists like Gustav Freytag and Felix
Dahn turned to the glories of the past; the conquest of Italy as
related in Felix Dahn's Em Kampfum TLom (1876) symbolized the
superiority of the unspoilt Germanic tribes over the decadent,
slothful, and shifty romance nations. The historical novel, in so
far as it renewed the historical novel of Scott and Willibald Alexis
by packing it with palatable erudition, had elements of novelty;
the historical drama, on the other hand - it was christened Ober-
khrerdrama - is resurrected Schiller progressively debilitated. The
theatre had existed mainly on the Sitten- und Thesenstiick, which
was, on the one hand, a continuation of the Tfamiliendrama of Iffland
and Kotzebue ['kotssbui], and, on the other hand, an imitation of
the machine-made plays of Sardou and hoc genus omne\ PAUL LINDAU
(1830-1918) was one of the chief purveyors.2

Another consequence of the Franco-Prussian War was the sud-
den affluence of wealth, particularly in Berlin; in the Prussian
capital there was an orgy of building and of speculation (Grunder-
tum)\ it is depicted in Spielhagen's novel Sturmflut (1876). Berlin,
mightily magnified, had become a European city conscious of its
significance; it became a literary centre to which authors streamed

1 Strangely enough, defeat in the First Great War had ultimately the same
result.

2 Two writers of flimsy farces of this generation scored successes in Eng-
land: we know Gustav von Moser's (1825-1903) Der 'Btbliothekar as The
Private Secretary^ and Oskar BlumenthaPs (1852-1918) Im mlssen Ross/ as
White Horse Inn.