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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                          15

Nordica, to which the hero escapes by aeroplane with the woman
he loves and wishes to live with - a monstrous idea in this state of
Nietzschean supermen, where the sexes are separated at puberty,
though at fixed periods regulated by the chief physician males are
admitted to the women's quarters. In Nordica nothing mechanical
is allowed; for where machines rule there is neither craftsmanship
nor leisure. (This had been the conclusion of William Morris's
News from Nowhere.} Majestdt is Nietzschean, in so far as it glorifies
Ludwig II of Bavaria - 'ernes Konigs Majestdt in tiefer Einsamkeit,
einerjungfrdulichen Kunstlerseele in Pitrpur\ - and derides the masses.
The change in outlook in these two novels is typical.

In lyric verse the revolt was heralded by an anthology published
in 1884 in Berlin: Moderne Dichtercharaktere* It was edited by
WILHELM ARENT (1864-?), a Pet who prided himself on being
crazy, and prefaced by two introductions intended as a manifesto,
one by HERMANN CONRADI (1862-90) and the other by KARL
HENCKELL (1864-1929) - brave words calling for new characters
to write the new verse, but surprisingly empty. The poems of the
anthology, as a matter of fact, present no innovation of form;
what is new is the prominence given to 'modern' subjects, mainly
in the direction of Grossstadtpoesie. Hermann Conradi had a certain
originality; his note is that of half-disgust with the debauch into
which his sensual nature hurled him down from the heights to
which his intellect strove; this note lends a pathetic interest - for
he died of pneumonia at the age of twenty-eight - to his book of
verse 'Lieder ernes Sunders (1887), with its sulphurous defiance as of
Tannhauser prisoned in the Venusberg, in the mons veneris. Con-
radi's half-tragic, half-ridiculous fate, together with the partially
realized intensely personal style of his novel Adam Mensch (1889),
revived interest in him in the days of expressionism. He had pre-
viously published a collection of short stories, T&rutalitdten (1886),
and a novel, Phrasen (1887), which has historical importance as
the first book to show the influence of Nietzsche. The two novels,
moreover, are the first in the pathological manner of Dostoieffsky.
Karl Henckell, as time went on, assumed the role of poet laureate
of the Socialists (AMsgewahlte Gedichte, 2 vols., 1903). Of the other
poets of the anthology, few were destined to win lasting fame;
but Otto Erich Hartleben, who distinguished himself later as
a dramatist and humorist, was represented with odes in the
ancient Greek style, and Arno Holz contributed poems which,