Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

10                     MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

the village. Moral: priests should not interfere in family affairs.
The hero of Der Gwissenswurm (1874) suffers from pangs of con-
science because once on a time he had played loose with a girl;
he recovers his peace of mind when he comes across her as a
farmer's wife and happy mother - and she shows him the door;
and when his old sin, in the shape of a merry girl, locks him in
her arms and warms him like sunshine. Moral: morality should
not be implacable, and conscience should not make cowards of
us all. In DoppelselbstmordXT 876) a pair of star-crossed lovers bury
their parents' strife by making them believe they have committed
suicide; they are discovered committing matrimony on the high
mountains. Jmgferngift (1878) glides gaily along the edge of ob-
scenity: a rich lover is shied off by a story, only faintly offensive
in a fabliau or a Viennese Volksstuck, that the lady is strangely
cursed - the first carnal touch of her brings death.

Anzengruber was equally a master of the Dorjnovelle or village
tale. In Der Schandfleck (1876) he handles the theme of ungrateful
children tormenting an old man, a village Lear, who finds refuge
with a bastard child (the SchandflecK). The heroine of Der Stern-
sfewbof(i$$$-84)3 a masterly character study, sets her cap, poorest
wench of the village though she is, at the richest farmer's son, and,
a village Helen sticking at nothing, with her '' ehrfurchtgebietende
Immoralitdf a Nietzschean unawares, achieves her end; she then
shows herself to be a capable housekeeper, and rules her con-
quered realm with stern and implacable justice.

MARIE VON EBNER-ESCHENBACH (1830-1916), who is at her best
where she describes the life of her native province of Moravia,
is naturalistic in her rendering of milieu. The world of her tales
(Dorf- und SMossgeschichten^ 1883 and 1886) is that of the Austrian
nobility to which she belonged, but she also describes with innate
sympathy the life of peasants and servants attached to the nobility;
like another aristocrat, George Sand, she inclines with a sympathy
akin to Socialism to the labouring poor; one of her main themes
is the starvation of the mind by unfavourable environment and
hereditary failings. She achieved fame withEz# Spdtgeborener (1875),
and her best novels were written in the two following decades.
Although her marriage was childless, no one has ever described
children better than she did. One of her best novels, Das Gemeinde-
kind (1887), has for its hero a boy who is the son of a murderer,
and whose mother is in prison; he has the whole village against