6 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE species of interpretative biographical novel (Gedankenroman) which has some of the elements of the me romande of our own day: Die Osterinsel (1895) is written round the gospel of Nietzsche, while HildegardMahlmann (i 897) has for central figure the peasant poetess Johanna Ambrosius. As a dramatist Wilbrandt wrote comedies (Die Vermahlten, 1871; Die Maler, 1872) which were reckoned as the best after Freytag's Die Journalisten, and 'Roman' tragedies (Gracchus, 1870; Arria und Messalina, 1874) which edified by gor- geous pictures of ancient vice. In the history of the theatre he counts, however, mainly by one play - Der Meister von Palmyra (1889) - which answered the trumpet blast of the naturalists by showing what might still be made of the old type of drama, how- ever lifeless the lilt of the blank verse. Two poets of the older generation belong more or less to the new schools of naturalism and impressionism, Theodor Fontane and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer; the former by virtue of his realism and the relativity of his moral judgments, the latter by his use of symbol and his handling of history and renaissance themes. c. F. MEYER (1825-98), whose collected verse appeared in 1882, used history to veil the intimate problem of his own personality, and so cunningly that symbolism and psycho-analysis had to make their impress on criticism before the hidden import of his verse as of his tales could be unravelled. His physical development, shocked by 'nervous breakdowns', was so imperfect that he did not succeed in growing something in the nature of a moustache till he was over fifty; he then married, and had a child. The salient thing in his work1 is his worship of strong men2; hence his love of renaissance types,3 In lyric verse he is the link between the 1 Huttens let^te Tage (1872; the story in verse of the last days of Ulrich von Hutten); Jurgjenatscb (1876; his one novel, followed by short stories); Der Heilige (1880; the story of Thomas a Becket shadows the German Kultur- kampf}\ Novellen (1883: Das Amuletf, Der Schuss von der Kan^el, Plautus im Nonnenkloster, Gustav Adolfs Page}; Das 'Leiden ernesKnaben (1883; imaging the writer's own tortured boyhood); Die Hocb^eit des Moriches (1884; related by Dante); Die Ricbterin (1885); Die Versucbung des Pescara (1887); Angela Borgia (1890). He ranks with Theodor Fontane as a regenerator of the historical ballad; Die Rose von Newport, Der sferbende Cromwell and Miltons JLache treat English themes. 2 cDas Mittelmassige\ he wrote, *macbt mich desbalb so traurig^ well es in mir selbst einen verwandten Stofffindet - darum sucbe icb so sehnsiichtig das Grossed 3 Widely read in historical literature, he was influenced by Jakob Burck- hardt's (1818-97) Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860), one of the great sources of inspiration for the impressionists.