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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                      II

him, but wins through by strength of character and by following
the precept to requite evil with good. Marie von Ebner-Eschen-
bach shares the didactic tendency of the writers of village tales;
her great lesson is that duty comes first and must be performed as
much by a countess (Unsuhnbar^ 18 90) as by a servant (Bo^ena, 1876);
not love, therefore, but renunciation is the chief thing in life.
According to her, love is rare. What is essential for the wellbeing
of the human race is not love of individuals but love of one's
fellow-men. *I look on love', she says, 'as the most cruel of all the
means which an angry deity has invented for the punishment of his
creatures/ Perhaps for this reason she often keeps her lovers apart.

A forerunner of a different sort was Duke Georg von Meiningen,
who had set himself as the task of his life to reform the German
stage. Not the least important step in this programme was his
morganatic marriage to one of the actresses of his Court theatre;
she with him superintended the rehearsals, drilled the company,
and selected the plays, while the Duke himself did the scene-
painting. Both launched into historical research work to ensure
accuracy of mise en scene and costumes; and, as far as possible,
furniture actually used at the time the plays represented was pro-
cured. This cult of realism on the stage went so far that in the
production of ALBERT LINDNER'S (1831-88) Bluthocb^eit (1871; an
Epigonendrawa), which deals with the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
the whole theatre was so full of real powder that the actors could
scarcely speak for hoarseness and the spectators got sore eyes.
The Meiningers were the forerunners of Max Reinhardt in this
stage realism, as well as in their handling of crowds, which with
them were an active part of the picture, not an inert mass. One of
the great events in the history of the German stage was the visit,
in 1874, of the Duke of Meiningen's company to Berlin, where
they produced Shakespeare's Julius CcBsar. This was the beginning
of the reform of the Berlin theatre.

A further stage in this reform was the establishment in 1883 of
Das Deutsche Theater in Berlin. The director appointed was ADOLF
L'ARRONGE (1838-1908). Adolf L'Arronge has some importance
historically as a dramatist,1 and he might be classified as a link
between the Sitten- undlhesenstuck and the naturalistic drama; his
plays owed their vogue to their careful though not rigidly realistic
painting of Berlin life, especially of the mushroom plutocracy
1 Mem Leopold (1873); Has&aamu Tochter (1877); Doktor Klaus (1879).