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NATURALISM                                       13

and again to the body of one of Botticelli's Virgins. But people
raved most about his hands. He acted as much with his hands - the
thin wan hands of an aesthete - as with his voice. He best imper-
sonated young men, neurasthenic boys, erotomaniacs, weaklings,
lovers. 'His Hamlet5, says Hermann Bahr, 'dies of youth - dies
because youth remains when manhood should dawn.' He was
naturally akin to his friend King Louis of Bavaria. And it is
characteristic that he translated into verse and adapted for the
stage Byron's Sardanapalus (1897).

Another event that was destined to be of the greatest impor-
tance in the history of the drama was the establishment in 1889
of the Verein Freie Buhne. The name was suggested by Antoine's
Theatre Iibre\ whereas, however, the Parisian theatre was dependent
for its existence on its box-office takings, the Freie Biihne aimed at
producing plays with no popular appeal but new in inspiration.
Among the founders of the club were MAXIMILIAN HARDEN/ later
the editor of Die Zukunft, Heinrich and Julius Hart, and PAUL
SCHLENTHER2; OTTO BRAHM3 was the director. The first play pro-
duced by the Freie Biihne was Ibsen's Ghosts-, it was soon followed
by Hauptmann's Vor Sonmnaufgang. But the first dramatic successes
of the period fell to tragedies that are really 'Eplgonendramen> iambic
verse plays in Schiller's manner. The first of ERNST VON WILDEN-
BRUCH'S (1845-1909) successes had been Die Karolinger (1881),
which centres round the quarrels of the grandsons of Charlemagne.
Wildenbruch, a scion of the Hohenzollerns on the wrong side of
the blanket (his father, the German consul at Beirut in Syria,
where the poet was born, was the son of Prinz Louis Ferdinand),
had served as a Prussian officer, and had abandoned the army for
a career in the civil service. Of his 'Hohenzollern plays" the most
interesting is Die Quifiqws (1888); here he makes concessions to
the naturalistic dogma by introducing the Berlin dialect - a chrono-
logical impossibility, since at the time of the action of the play

1  1861-1927; one of the most vitriolic of publicists. He showed acumen
in the literary articles he wrote for Die Zukunfty which he founded in 1892.
He 'discovered* Maeterlinck, boomed Ibsen, and wrote a notable essay on
Maupassant. His style, with its flaring Jewish qualities, went to waste in
conceited mannerisms. Political and literary essays in book form: Apostata
und neue Folge (1892); Kopfe (1910).

2  1854-1912; from 1898 director of the Hofburgtheater in Vienna. His
book Gerhart Hauptmann (1896) is well known.

3  1856-1912; see p. 29. Critical works: Gottfried Keller (1883); Heinrich von
Kleist (1884); Schiller (1888).