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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS   OF  NATURALISM                  43

his uncle, to learn the business of agriculture. There is a girl at
the farm, Anna, with whom he falls in love; she denies herself to
him because she is honest, and has already fallen to another uncle,
a slimy drunkard employed on the farm. She is sacrificed in holy
wedlock to a very greasy Moravian brother. In hexameters, too,
is Till Eulenspiegel (1927), the 'adventures, tricks, pranks, visions
and dreams of the great military aviator, tramp, and conjurer5. In
the misery of the post-War years a famous aviator preaches truth
in the form of mocking jest, finds allegorical answers to the prob-
lems of life, and passes from a trickster's buffoonery to the cosmic
despair of Faust. His end is that of Emanuel Quint: in Switzerland
the Saviour appears to him and in trying to find Him again he
falls down an abyss. The epic poem Der grosse Traum was begun
during the first World War and finished during the second; it was
published on his eightieth birthday in 1942. It is again autobio-
graphical and confessional It is modelled on Dante's Divina Corn-
media: the poet is led by a spiritual guide - Dante himself for a
time, but for the greater part of the way by Sataniel, in Gnostic
concept the elder son of God - through the nether world. It begins
with an invocation to the poet's mother, who as the embodiment
of motherhood sits on the throne of God, and to her he returns
at the end of his pilgrimage through the City of the Dead. At the
end the poet ascends from the fiery centre to the peace of an Alpine
landscape. The epic embodies the mysticism of Hauptmann's later
years. Of his later volumes of verse Die Ahrenkse (1939) is fol-
lowed by Neue Gedichte (1946); the poems of the latter date from
the 1890*5 to the 1940*3, with nature poetry from the Riesen-
gebirge and verses in the manner of Hafiz.

The autobiographical elements in the two volumes of Das Bitch
der l^eidemcbaft have been indicated; in the two volumes of Das
Abenteuer meiner ]ugend Hauptmann records the first twenty-five
years of his life. He died, struck down by paralysis, shortly after
an order of expulsion from his Silesian castle at Agnetendorf had
reached him from the new Polish government. In the previous
February he had by an unlucky chance witnessed the destruction
of Dresden. He was buried at Hiddensee, that island with its long
thin line of sand dunes that flanks Rugen in the Baltic; here he
had spent his summers throughout the great part of his life.

The time is not yet ripe for an assured judgment on Gethart
Hauptmann's place in literature. He has written absolute rubbish;