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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                        3

from the provinces; and the wealth of the upper and trading
classes was matched by the grovelling poverty of the working
population. But the workers were at the advent of their rise to
power; Spielhagen's In ILeih und died (1866) had already been a
Socialistic novel, with a hero clearly modelled on the Socialist
leader, Ferdinand Lassalle [la'sal] (1825-64); labour and capital
had faced each other as irreconcilable forces in the same author's
Hammer und Amboss (1869); and henceforward Marxism1 is to be
reckoned with as a literary ferment. With Socialism goes a wave
of pessimism, in stark contrast with the racial optimism of the
historical novel. Goethe had overcome the Weltschmer^ of Werthei\
though the teaching of Faust is still Entsagmg; in the romantic
period Weltschmer^ had blended with Byronism; Schopenhauer
(1788-1860) made pessimism a philosophic system the influence of
which on literature was profound. It was not definitely displaced
till Nietzsche's doctrine of the superman passed into the neo-
romanticism of the impressionists; and even here it still acts as a
secondary influence, for the neo-romanticists take over the moods
of the French symbolists, who had themselves been deeply influ-
enced by Schopenhauer. Into this stream of pessimism flowed a
new current, deriving from Darwin's doctrines of the struggle for
existence. Darwin's laws of heredity and environment {milieu, Urn-
gebung^ \3mwelf) immediately provided catchwords for literature;
even Gunther in Wilhelm Jordan's Die Nlbelunge (1868-74) selects
his Bettgenossin with an eye to ZuchtwahL Darwin's theories, supple-
mented by the teaching of Ernst Haeckel (i834-i9i9),2 were to
revolutionize the conception of society, and, as a vision of irresist-
ible cosmic forces, were already in 1880 shaking the crass utilitar-
ianism which, as the accepted view of life, had accompanied the
accession to wealth of the great cities. Wilhelm Scherer (1841-86),
professor of German literature at the University of Berlin, was one
of the first to proclaim the coming domination of science; he had
declared that natural science was the 'signatura temporis: . . . sie
druckt der Poesie ihren Stempel auf. Die Naturwissenschaft %iebt als
Triumphator auf dem Siegeswagen einher^ an den mr alle gefesselt sind?

1 The first volume of KarlMarx's (i 818-83) DasKapifafhzd appeared in 1867.

2 HaeckePs Die Weltrdtsel (1899) popularized his system of Darwinistic
evolutionism; it is essentially the gospel of materialism, but in Der Monlsmus
(i 892) he had attempted to link science with religion by deriving moral good-
ness (i.e. ethics) and the cult of beauty (i.e. aesthetics) from the recognition of
ultimate truth.