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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

34                    MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

Veland1 (1925), in which the legend of Wayland the Smith is
dramatized, is another study of sadism, and thus to some extent it
repeats Griselda: here Veland enslaves Bodwild by twisting her
hair round his fists and raping her, and the measure of her de-
basement by the (at first) forced exercise of the sex function is that
of her passion for this man who 'bends her like a bow'. Veland
can hardly be given dramatic value unless it is classed as a Mdrchen-
drama^ but - though Veland is a god and though the finale sym-
bolizes the self-liberation by rebellion of all oppressed workers -
the general spirit is not that of the Mdrchendrama^ nor could it well
be so as a study of sadism. Veland can work magic, but he can
only free himself from bondage by constructing wings to fly with.
Hauptmann has de-humanized an old tale which has its own satis-
fying symbol of patient human endeavour. Masochism is again
the theme of Hauptmann's next play, Dorothea Angermann (1926);
the heroine is a parson's daughter who is seduced by a cook; he
drags her through the mud, but does not destroy her devotion to
him. The very title ofSpttk (192.9) hints at Hauptmann's progressive
obsession by demonism; there are two plays in the volume, Die
schwar^e Maske and Hexenritt; in the former there is a gigantic
nigger who blackmails his former mistress, now the wife of a
burgomaster; the second is a Swedish scene with Satanism and a
vampire. The title of Vor Sonnenuntergang (1932) seemed to hold
forth a promise of cessation. It is one more study of senile eroti-
cism, but this time an old man's right to the love and possession of
a girl is defended as perfectly natural. The hero, a septuagenarian
business man who has made his pile, infuriates his family by insist-
ing on marrying a young Kindergarten teacher, and they attempt
to foil his plan by suing for the application of legal restraint, which
in Germany means immediate deprivation of rights of administra-
tion till the case is decided. His son-in-law is appointed curator,
with tragic effects. That the play was galvanized into life by the
distinguished actor Werner Krauss does not prove the thesis pro-
pounded by the drama that neither mind nor sex necessarily decay
in advanced age.

It might be charitable not to mention three plays of Hauptmann

1 Wagner's unfinished opera Wieland der Schmied was followed by Franz
Held's We/and der Schmied, Eberhard Konig's Wielant der Schmied (1911), and
Fritz Lienhard's Wieland der Schmied (K)Q<fi. Karl Gustav Vollmoller's Wieland
(1911) is a cynical travesty of the legend: Wieland is a German aviator, whose
first flight is financed by Lord Northwick, proprietor of the Evening Mail.