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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS   OF  NATURALISM                  37

Dominik, the Breslau student whose teachers will not allow him to
come up for his examination con the ground of moral delinquency'.
The period of Quint's appearance is set about 1890, a time when
all Germany was in a ferment; and we have transparent portraits
of celebrities of that time and after, e.g. Peter Hullenkamp is the
hallucinated poet Peter Hille, the picturesque vagrom man among
the naturalists.

There is an autobiographical substratum, too, in Hauptmann's
second long novel. In 1884, while studying sculpture in Rome, he
had been laid up with an attack of typhoid fever, and probably
his life was saved by his fiancee., who came from Germany to nurse
him. Ten years later he visited America. These are the two ex-
periences which form the groundwork of Atlantis (1912). There
is much else that is obviously autobiographical; probably the hero
Friedrich von Kammacher, whose experiments in bacteriology
have ended in a fiasco, is as much Hauptmann himself as Vockerat
is in Einsame Menschen or Heinrich in Die versunkene Glocke. While
Friedrich's scientific reputation was being torn to shreds his wife
had gone mad; these two threads which the Parcae had woven
into his life had snapped, but a third thread, his passion for a little
vampire of a dancing girl, is still whole. He takes a berth on a
steamer by which she is travelling to New York; and more than
half of the book is taken up with the life on board the Roland till
it is rammed by a derelict, with the escape of a boatful of passen-
gers, including the doctor and his dancing girl, and with their
rescue by a schooner. Minute as the description is, there is not a
moment's languor; and accounts of actual shipwrecks by survivors
seem illusory after the unerring balancing of psychological states
which even Hauptmann could probably not have written if he had
not been a pupil of Forel.1 Moreover, the events as described are
strangely prophetic of the disaster to the Titanic, which occurred
shortly afterwards. In New York, Friedrich whistles his dancing
girl down the wind, joins a circle of artists, and takes lessons in
sculpture, at which he had tried his hands in his youth, from Eva
Burns. But he cannot free his mind from the experiences of the
shipwreck, and he would become a maniac if the 'poisons and
putrid matter' in his body did not end his consciousness by an

1 August Fotel's Die sexuel/e Frage (1904), Mantegazza's Pbystologie der
Liebe, and Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia sexwlis had considerable influence on
this period.