Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

22                    MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

wildest was a young poet born at Greenock, JOHN HENRY MACKAY
(1864-1933); in his prose writings and novels (Die Anarchisten,
1891, is a tale of London agitation) he was to popularize the doc-
trines of the classical work on anarchism, Max Stirner's (1806-56)
Der Ein^ige und sein Eigentum (1844); his poetry (Kinder des Hoch-
lands, 1885; Dichtungen, 1886; Armaparatafero, 1887; Helene, 1888)
has the vigour of his Scots blood and the aggressiveness of his
social creed.

One can hardly say that PETER HILLE (1854-1904) was an habitue
of the Friedrichshagen circle. For Peter Hille - 'ewiger Waller und
Wanderer" - Berlin was a place of passage merely: literally he was
a tramp who transported his belongings and manuscripts in a sack
or stuffed into the greasy pockets of his billowing ulster, which
covered his lack of coat and waistcoat. In London he lodged 'in
einer der dunkkn Hohlen Whitechapels\ with niggers, Chinese, Social-
ists and Communists, such as are the characters of his novel Die
So^ialisten (1887); the names of two, Beber and Triebknecht, are
transparent. From an author who wrote as the spirit prompted,
in the open air or in the vilest dens, orderly shaping of matter is
not to be expected; but what we do get in this fragmentist - in
Die So^ialisten as in Hille's other novel, Die Hassenburg (1905; an
Er^fehungsroman of a sort) - is a wealth of aphorisms, such as he
would jot down on any scrap of paper - 'Papierschniftyl, Zigarren-
tuteny Briefumschlage9 - that the winds of Heaven blew upon him.
These form the staple of the second volume of his AusgewSblte
Werke, piously sorted from his sacks and edited by the Harts after
his death. There is a curious interest too in his tragedy Des Plato-
nikers Sohn (1897), which already handles the Father-Son motif
with the pitiless impiety of the expressionists: Petrarch's son, a
natural boy, rebels against the formative efforts of his scholastic
father; what emerges is Hille's detestation of school scholarship.
But the best of Hille is in his lyrics; here was the new poetry,
though it was not written to Holz's recipe. Quaint and sly (like
the little lilt of the schoolgirls gathering in the courtyard as a
Schulschlange - that some day will crush the strong backs of men)
- or verdurous and sonorous, like the roar of the wind in the
forest, these poems live with the magic of Peter Hille's strange
and wayward genius. The legend of Peter Hille - of 'St. Peter* -
is to be read in Das Peter Hille-Buch which Else Lasker-Schuler,
his great friend, devoted to his memory.