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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE   DRAMATISTS   OF   NATURALISM                  35

which have always had a bad press. Die Jungfem von Bischojsberg
(1907) is a comedy in which German humour is at its worst; there
are four sisters in a household which copies that of the Thiene-
mann family into which Hauptmann married in his green youth,
and an incredibly credulous 'Monstruw in Qberkhrergestalf. Die
fatten (1911), defined as a Berliner Tragikom6die\ is said by Haupt-
mann to be his very first play; the characters represent the scum
of Berlin - a childless woman gets her brother, a bully, to murder
the Polish servant from whom she has bought a baby and who
wants it back. The Festspiel in dentschen }Leimen (1913), written to
command in commemoration of the German War of Liberation,
was hailed with derision when produced; Hauptmann was charged
with glorifying Napoleon, whom he brings on to the stage to-
gether with the great men of the past - Frederick the Great, Fichte,
Hegel, Heinrich von Kleist, Jahn - to interpret the German spirit.
That there was a lukewarm acceptance of this play after 1933 de-
cides nothing; it is a matter of literary history that it was carried
by the actor Werner Krauss to Hitler, who accepted it as the Fest-
spiel of the Third Empire, the justification being that it did in
vision sweep the glorious future - which events were to prove
near - when Germany should guide the world to Peace eternal.
In form, it is an experiment which uses Knittelverse and, though
intended for production before great audiences, frames the action
as a Puppenspiel. Definitely anti-Nazi is the one-act play Die Fin-
sternisse, which was written in 1937 but not published till 1947.
The first title was Requiem, and it was written to honour a Jewish
friend, whose family had been forced to bury him clandestinely.
Though he was treated with suspicion Hauptmann remained in
Germany, but reprinting of his works was forbidden and some of
his plays were banned.

In his 'prentice days Hauptmann had written a short tale: Der
Apostel (1890), at once a prose poem and a subtle presentment of
religious mania. The kernel of the story is a dream of the mio
mystica: the 'apostle' dreams that Jesus appears to him, and that
the apparition cures him of the strange sensations of his brain.
It is a coming of peace. This dream and the results of it are re-
peated in Der Narr in Christo Emanuel Quint (1910). In this novel
Hauptmann has taken up the subject of his early short story, and,
repeating some of the details, has worked out a more prosaic ex-
position of religious mania. Many Messiahs have appeared in the