Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

NATURALISM                                      19

on classifying the poems of Phantasus as such and ranging them
with the attempts to reproduce something of Walt Whitman's
"barbarous yawp') depend for their effect on their inherent poetry,
their grotesque humour, their vivid pictures.

Johannes Schlaf, after parting from Holz, continued to write
plays (Meister Oel^e, 1892; Gertrud^ 1897; Die Feindlichen, 1899).
The two latter dramas share with Schlaf 5s novels the quest of a
new humanity; Meister Oel^e is stark realism. In the loosely con-
nected sketches of rural nature I# Dingsda (1892) and Fruhling (1894)
we have nothing more than a nerve-racked city man's awakening
to the healthiness of country life: much lauded as they were as
poetry (though in prose) of the first water it is hard now to see
in these feverish and peevish divagations more than a first reaction
against the sordidness of the naturalistic ^?/7/>^-painting. This doc-
trine of healing nature is transformed to a species of cosmic cult
in Schlaf's later volumes of verse Hell-Dunkel (1899) and Das
Sommerlied (1905) and in the prose poetry of his Das Spiel der hohen
Unien (1927). Historically the most interesting thing in Schlaf's
lyric prose is that it is a loose imitation of Whitman,1 whose serious
influence on German form begins here and in Hold's 'Phantasus.
In his short stories Sommertod (1897), Leonore (1900), Die Ruhmagd
(1900), and Fruhlingsblumen (1901), and his two trilogies of novels
Das dritteTLeich (1900), Die Sucbenden (1901), PeterBojesFreite (1902),
and Der Kleine (1904), Der Prin^ (1908), Am Men Punkt (1909),
Schlaf gets to grips with the multifarious problems of the present,
from the decay of society to the absurdities of science and religion
and the conflicts of love and marriage; for decadence he adum-
brates a cure by religious exaltation of spirit and Whitmanesque
care of body and mind. As the new man of his futuristic vision he
points, in the three little monographs he has devoted to these
writers, to Whitman,2 Verhaeren, and Maeterlinck.

The two Hart brothers will live in the annals of literature for
the part they played in the campaign for naturalism (Stoffkunst,
Herrschaft der Materie, to use denominations of recent years). In
memoirs and elsewhere - and indeed by reason of their solemn
ideologies as much as by their personal characteristics - they are

though different, in the line of rhymeless Romantic verse and of Jean Paul's
Streckverse in JFlegeljahre (see Jakob Minor, Neuhochdeutsche Metrikt p. 333).

1 Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-76) had introduced Whitman in 1868 by an
essay and translations.                                               2 Walt Whitman (1904).