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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

44                    MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

one need only point to his prose versions of Lohengrin and Parsivafi
published in 1914 as a volume of the Ullstein-Jugendbucher; here
there is absolute incomprehension of the beauty and meaning of
the medieval tales; or there is a cynical distortion of them - cfor
a handful of silver'. In Hauptmann's later years there is either
pandering to the call of the public for sensational or erotic litera-
ture or there are obsessional themes. In any case his range is
extremely limited; time and time again he portrays himself and
makes capital of the same domestic conflict. There can be no
doubt, however, that in the history of the drama he will always
have a prominent place; his form of drama may not, according to
Lessing's canons, be drama at all, since for 'hero' it substitutes the
lurid illumination of a pathological state, but it bears the impress
of an interesting personality; and his experiments and successes
mark a new period in the history of the German stage. All his
good work is on the side of progress and uncompromisingly bold;
and for this reason he only just managed under the Nazi regime
to save his face: he was branded as volksfremd because his work
has no sense unless it defends the right of the individual - even
to be immoral.

In every literary movement that pushes forward to extremes
there is a group of cautious adherents who trail along with them
something of the paraphernalia of the old school. They are fol-
lowers, but not pioneers. In the period of naturalism they are
classed, as far as the theatre is concerned, as Kompromissdramatiker
(Sudermann, Fulda, Halbe, Otto Ernst), but they feuilletonize the
novel just as much as they blend old and new in the drama. Both in
drama and novel the typical pseudo-naturalist is HERMANN SUDER-
MANN (1857-1928). He has related the story of his hard youth in
Das Bilderbttch meiner Jugend (192.2). Born in East Prussia, he mi-
grated to Berlin, and made a hit in 1887 with his novel Frau Sorge,
an East Prussian variation of the Romeo and Juliet theme,2 which
already shows the salient features of Sudermann's novels: his char-
acters are shown in grim contest with conditions imposed upon

1 After Wagner's two operas and Wilhelm Hertz's (1835-1902) fine transla-
tion o£Par%wa! (1898), the most notable poetic adaptation is that of Albrecht
Schaeffer (p. 153). Vollmoeller's Parrival: Die fruhen Garten is a series of
impressions in Stefan George's manner.

2 A favourite motif of Dorfnovetle %&d'Batterndramay e.g. Keller's Romeo und
Julie aufdem Dorfe, Auerbach's Erdmute, Anzengruber's Der Meineidbauer and
Doppthtlbstmord.