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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

14                     MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

(it describes the subjection of the unruly nobles of the March
of Brandenburg by the newly imported Margrave Frederick of
Nuremberg) Plattdeutsch was spoken in Berlin. There is an attempt
to combine the grand historical style with up-to-date realism in
the double drama Heinrich undHeinrichs Geschkcht (1896), in which
the German Emperor's humiliation at Canossa provides a sen-
sational scene. The action of Wildenbruch's plays1 rushes along
and culminates in such dazzling stage-effects; but they are poor
as literature, owing to the naive characterization; the characters
are lyrically exuberant puppets, and the construction, instead of
building up to a climax, reels from sensation to sensation. Wilden-
bruch, in his desire to be abreast of the times, joined company
with the naturalists; in two of his plays, Die Haubenlerche (1890)
and Meister Bafyer (1892), he outwardly followed their formulas.2

The victory of the new realism which we have seen coming was
being prepared by the beginnings of a new criticism. The early
history of naturalism is that of two groups, one in Berlin and the
other in Munich, each with a militant organ of its own. The Berlin
naturalists gather round the brothers HEINRICH (1855-1906) and
JULIUS HART (1859-1930), who launched the campaign in their
review Kritische Waffengange* (1882-84). Of this review only four
numbers appeared; the campaign was fought out in Die Freie
Buhne, the organ of the Free Stage Club, which long kept its
vigour as Die Neue Rundschau.

The organ of the Munich group was Die Gesellschaft (1885-1902),
founded and edited by MICHAEL GEORG CONRAD (1846-1927), who
was one of the first devotees of the cult of Zola; he planned a series
of novels of Munich life on the scale of the Rougon-Macquart
cycle, but got no farther than diffuse sketches (Was die Isar rauscht^
1887). More interesting are two other novels, InpurpurnerFinsternis
(1895) and Majestat (1902). Inpurpurner Finsternis is a Utopia; the
period is A.D. 3000; and Teuta, a land where mechanical devices
have eliminated nature, is contrasted to its disadvantage with

1 Harold (1882) and Christoph Marlow (1884) mishandle English themes.

2 Wildenbruch's short stones (Der Meister von Tanagra, 1880; Das edle B/ztf9
1892) are excellent of their kind.

3 The second number contains an article by the Harts: Fur und gegen Zola.
The discussion was taken up again by Arno Holz in his essay Zola als
Theoretiker, published 1890 in Die Freie Biihne and reprinted in Die Kunst: ihr
Wesen undihre Geset^e. Hob: argues that Zola's conception of the roman experi-
mental and of documents humains is taken over from Taine, the Goncourts, and
Claude Bernard.