Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

THE   DRAMATISTS   OF  NATURALISM                  33

She goes mad. She resembles the murdered girl, and Lord Archie
thinks she is the ghost of the girl he has stabbed: there are ghastly
love-scenes between the crazy girl and the conscience-stricken
laird; Elsalil drives her teeth into Lord Archie's wrist, and clings
- it is the bite of a vampire from which he goes mad (occultism
is in vogue at this period). The clergyman's son has challenged
Lord Archie to a duel, but when he sees that the murderer is crazy
he considers himself avenged by the hand of the Lord. With Der
weisse Heiland (1920) the scene shifts to Mexico: Montezuma wel-
comes Cortes as the 'White Saviour' promised by old legend, but
he himself is the Saviour, who is tortured and put to death by
the Spaniards for greed of gold and in the name of religion. The
undertone is poignant: in the almost sick denunciation of atro-
cities perpetrated in the name of fanatic patriotism and religion is
to be heard Hauptmann's own disgust in the war years.1 Schluck
und ]au (1900) had transferred the main idea (life is a dream) of
Christopher Sly's lordship to Silesia; Indipobdi (1920) is closely
modelled on The Tempest-. Prospero, dethroned by his son, has
been wrecked on a Pacific island, where he is hailed by the Indians
as the long-promised White Saviour. With him is his daughter
(red-haired), who has grown up on the island; hunting an eagle
on the mountains she meets a youth who turns out to be her own
brother, wrecked in his turn; she falls in love with him, and pro-
claims her intention of living with him, even when she learns the
relationship. (Incest2 becomes a favourite theme at this period;
it occurs, e.g., in Leonhard Frank's Cruder und Scbwester, Hesse's
Demian, Bierbaum's Samalio Pardulus, Thomas Mann's Walsungen-
Uut, Herbert Eulenberg's Anna Walemka, Fritz von Unruh's Bin
Geschlecbt, Max Brod's Lord Byron kommt aus der Mode, Kasimir
Edschmid's Lord Byron.} The old magician, rather than sanction
human sacrifices, which he has abolished, ascends a volcano, and
(like Holderlin's Empedocles) descends into the crater: his son
and daughter are to rule united.

1  The source is more or less Eduard Stucken's novel Die missen Goiter
(pp. 273-4); Kotzebue's Die Spanier in 'Peru (1796; adapted by Sheridan as Pi%-
arro) and Wolfgang Kirchbach's (1857-1906; one of Conrad*'s Munich circle)
Des Sonnenreicbes Untergang (1891) were also probably read.

2 The motif had been handled before World War I, but the difference in
treatment can be seen by comparing (e.g.) Anzengruber's Schandflecky where
sexual love fades when the rektionship is discovered, with the consummation
justified by the example of Byron.