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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS  OF  NATURALISM                 ZJ

marriage (Ehe ^u Drift}.1 Johannes Vockerat is married to a woman
intellectually beneath him (like the wife in Das Triedensfesi}\ as a
woman of means, she can give him creature comforts and the
opportunity of living a student's life, but not intellectual comrade-
ship. He is rhomme incompris\ even his parents do not understand
him, for they are pious and orthodox, and he is a disciple of
Darwin and Haeckel. Into his quiet home comes a girl student
from Zurich (der ILetter aus der Feme); she understands Johannes,
and he falls in love with her; his wife despairs; Anna has to leave,
and Johannes drowns himself. The outlines show a similarity with
Ibsen's Rosmersholm, but (though it was a tenet of naturalism that
personal interest should be eliminated) the inspiration was no
doubt that which later found symbolic expression in Die versunkene
Glocke. In any case, Einsame Menschen is a study of neurasthenia,
just as DasFriedensfest'h&di been a study of heredity and Vor Sonnen-
aufgang a study of alcoholism.

With Die Weber (1892) Hauptmann achieved European fame.
The poverty-stricken condition of the Silesian weavers was at that
time a topical question, and Hauptmann, himself the grandson of
a Silesian weaver, studied the situation in his native mountains.
There had been a revolt of the weavers in 18442; and this past

1 This is a prolific motif in German literature. It begins with the medieval
legend of Graf von Gleichen; this crusader brought home a paynim maid
who had freed him from captivity, and he is said to have obtained a dispen-
sation from the Pope to cohabit with her conjointly with his legal wife. The
legend has been dramatized by Wilhelm Schmidtbonn (Der Graf von Gleicben,
1906), Hermann Anders Kriiger (Der Graf von Gleichen, 1908), and Ernst
Hardt (Schirin und Gertraudey 1912, a 'Scher^spier). In Goethe's Stella (first
version) and Maeterlinck's Aglavaine et Selysette the two women agree to share
the husband. In fiction Jakob Wassermann's Das Gansemannchen adapts the
life-story of the poet Burger, who lived connubially with two sisters; Herbert
Eulenberg in one of the Novellen of his Casanovas let^tes Abenteuer shows
Schiller considering the same solution of his problem; Max Kretzer in his
novel Drei Weiber (1886) lets his hero live with a woman, her stepdaughter,
and their servant; and Gerhart Hauptmann in Buch der Leidenschaft pleads
passionately for the sweet reasonableness of the marriage to two. Fiirst Her-
mann von Piickler-Muskau (1785-1871) bought an Abyssinian girl and lodged
her in his castle, to the disgust of his wife. For Otto Erich Hartleben see p. 63.

2 The sufferings of weavers are the theme of Ernst Willkomm's (i 810-86)
novels Eisen, Gold und Geist (i 843) and Weisse Sklaven (i 845; the rising of the
Silesian weavers at Peterswaldau had just taken place and forms the basis of
this novel). In his novel Mascbinen (1895) Konrad Alberti shows the weavers
attacking machinery, while Ernst Toller bases his pky Die Maschinenstiirmer
(1922) on the rioting of the Nottingham weavers in 1811, and in his prologue
translates Byron's maiden speech in the House of Lords in defence of the