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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS   OF   NATURALISM                 41

Wittenberg, however, Hamlet is ethically transformed (gewandelt}
from a libertine of the Prince Hal sort because his father's ghost -
like Undine he rises from a well in the courtyard - appears to him
in a German castle and calls him home to sweep to his revenge.
One of Karl Gutzkow's (1811-78) first dramatic attempts was a
Hamlet in Wittenberg^ but Gutzkow of course could never have con-
ceived a Hamlet so pathological and nightmare-ridden as Haupt-
mann's Trinz Trauermanter, whose ambition it is to be a 'lecturer
in poetics' (ILektorfur PoetiK). He practises collegium logicum in an
interview with Magister Melanchthon, whom he assures that he
is ripe for death; and to Melanchthon's charge that no puddle is
too filthy for him to wallow in he replies that all precious things
come from the muddied earth and that the ecclesiastical gentry,
if they were consistent, should call the womb of woman filth and
slime. What Hauptmann is touching here is the problem of royalty,
or rather of the contact of royalty with commoners (as in the
Hamlet novel; and Hauptmann's son married a duodecimo prin-
cess). Melanchthon drops logic for indignation when Hamlet asks
him to marry him to the prostitute gipsy with whom he is living -
to a succubus, Melanchthon protests! In the light of the theories
exposed in Im Wirbel der Berufmg this would seem to indicate the
main theme of the twin book: Hamlet is the poet blessed by God
with the power of idealizing dirt and with the double vampire
sucking the blood of his brain. And so: To be or not to be? A play
about the Inquisition, Magnus Garbe, though it was not published
till 1942 (in Das Gesammelte Werfc) was written in 1914-15; it is a
scathing attack on religious fanaticism; stylistically it must be
classed as Surrealismus.

In 1907 Hauptmann visited Greece, and described his experi-
ences in Griechischer Fruhling (1908). After this a species of Hellen-
ism crops up in this work and that, but it took some time to ripen,
and in his case it was not the ultra-refined Hellenism of Winckel-
mann and Goethe; so far as it was Greek at all it was Dionysian
and Orphic. But in his first Greek play, Der Bogen des Odysseus
(1914), it can be seen that the journey had deepened his concep-
tion of pagan myth and given a new sunniness and plasticity to
his work. This drama of the return of Ulysses to Ithaca has some-
thing of the sunny mood of Homer; the action is mythical and
impossible, but the interest never flags. Typically the opening
scene is outside a farm with a swineherd rubbing his bow with