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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                         5

'emancipation of the flesh*); there had been much of this doctrine
in Paul Heyse's long novel 1m Paradiese (1876), and it is preached
ad nauseam by the naturalists and, indeed, by the succeeding schools
down to the present day; only in individual authors is there a
questioning of this placing of morality beyond the pale of reason,
as in Thomas Mann (e.g. Fioren^a). It is true that, although passion
is hailed as sovereign, there is at the beginning of naturalism a
kind of eugenic denunciation of individual vices, e.g. drunkenness
in Hauptmann's Vor Sonnenaufgang\ but even Hauptmann's drunk-
ards, in his later plays, illustrate the general sentiment that: tout
comprendre c'est tout pardonner. The argument runs that since men-
tality is shaped by milieu and hereditary tendencies, above all by
the sexual impulse, man's will is not free; and, since the will is
not free, morality is not absolute (i.e. a law for all) but relative
(a law possible or impossible according to physical constitution,
mentality, and environment). Action is due to nerves; and, since
men are not responsible for their nerves, they are not responsible
for their actions.

It is curious that this comparative contempt for 'morality5 runs
through the work of PAUL HEYSE (1830-1914), who was set up as
a bogey-man to be shied at by the firebrands of the new realism.
His attitude, however, was that of the old romantic poets, a mere
over-emphasis of the beauty of passion; the objection to the
Bohemian artists of his Im Paradiese is that, although they are
sufficiently immoral, they are too unreal to be anything. Paul
Heyse lived right through the period of naturalism, and he may
be given his place in the period, alien to naturalism as he was,
because he serves for contrast.

Closely associated with Paul Heyse was ADOLF WILBRANDT (1837-
1911), and he too in his artist novel Hermann Ifinger (1892) blazed
a partisan contrast between drab naturalists and eclectic classicists;
there are pen-sketches too in this novel of the painters Makart
and Lenbach and of the Munich school poet GRAF VON SCHACK
(i 815-94), another of the proud old school who has the attitude of
an impressionist, the cloistered contempt for the reading public,
and the cult of form for form's sake which was the pose of Stefan
George. Wilbrandt's scholarly absorption in the personality of
artists and writers and their style - his book on Heinrich von
Kleist (1863) and his essays on Fritz Reuter (a fellow Mecklen-
burger) and Holderlin are first-rate - led him to hammer out a