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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS  OF   NATURALISM                  25

mother, who had been brought up in the Moravian creed. He
planned an epic on Jesus of Na2areth; it remained an idea, but his
religious conception (in the main pity for suffering humanity)
materialized years later in his novel Der Narr in Christo 'Emanuel
Quint. In 1887 his short story >ahnn>arter Thiel appeared in Die
Gesellschaft', a man who tends a railway crossing is incapacitated
by dependence on his virago of a wife. In these moods of social
pity the theories of Holz unlocked Hauptmann's creative power:
Sekundenstil, he thought, gave him the means of showing truth by
depicting humanity in the raw; plan, development, selection, effect
were not needed; what the artist had to do was to let situation
follow situation; the situation would be vivid because actual, and
pregnant with meaning because all life is full of tragic pity. He
had been present at the historical performance in 1887 of Ibsen's
Ghosts in Berlin, and had been deeply moved. He set to work and
produced Vor Sonmnaufgang (1889). Alfred Loth, a Socialist agi-
tator, comes to a Silesian mining village to do research in economic
conditions. He is invited to stay in the home of a farmer enriched
by the working of mines under his fields. The farmer is a dipso-
maniac; his wife is unchaste; one of his two daughters, also alco-
holic, does not appear on the stage, as she is expecting her con-
finement; the other, Helene, pure in spite of her environment,
falls in love with Loth, the first clean man she has met. Loth, still
unaware of the general degeneration of the family, makes a love-
match with Helene; but when he learns the state of things he
breaks off the engagement and goes away - for he is a teetotaller
and believes in heredity, - and Helene kills herself with a hunting-

Vor Sonmnaufgang was produced on the 20th of October, 1889,
in the Lessing Theatre, under the auspices of the Freie Buhne. It
was a battle like that ofHernatti. The excitement culminated when
a physician, at the moment when Helene's sister is near her con-
finement and there is a call for a midwife, threw a pair of forceps
on the stage. The play was hissed and acclaimed and discussed
for weeks after. Naturalism had arrived. The vogue of scientific
determinism was established; i.e. the conception that the will is
rendered powerless by heredity and milieu. Moreover, a new dra-
matic technique opened new vistas. Monologues and asides were
declared antiquated. Stage directions were like a catalogue. The
idea that a play should have a 'hero* gave way to the conception