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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS  OF  NATURALISM                 45

them by the sins of others. Frau Sorge is the story of a poor boy
with a bad father; the dice of fate are loaded against him, but he
works his way to success. It is a Bildungsroman with a restricted
framework; whereas fatBildungsromane of the classical and roman-
tic periods took their hero through phases of mental development
to a high stage of culture, the idea ofFrau Sorge is success by work.
In this it follows Freytag's Soil und Haben and Julian Schmidt's
dictum blazoned thereon that the novel must seek the Germans
where they are at their best, at their work. It was to have a long
series of successful imitations, the best known of which is Gustav
Frenssen's Jorn Uhl. Fran Sorge is generally recogni2ed as the pro-
genitor of Frenssen's tale, but it does not seem to have been
noticed that there is a striking similarity between Frau Sorge and
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach's Das Gemeindekind^ which appeared
in the same year; in both tales the progress of the hero is shown
from childhood upward; he has to suffer for the sins of his father;
and in both tales there is symbolic use of a 'LdkoMobili. How
loosely attached Sudermann is to consistent naturalism can be seen
by a comparison of the two novels: whereas Marie von Ebner-
Eschenbach is consistently scientific in her consideration of the
effects of heredity (the ending, as cautious as that of Das Friedens-
fest, leaves it questionable whether the boy will overcome his
hereditary tendencies or not - he relinquishes love because he is
conscious of homicidal passion), Sudermann, after letting his hero
overcome his adversaries by a show of physical courage (as Ebner-
Eschenbach does) ends with romantic happiness. The headlong
rush of action of Sudermann5 s narrations is seen at its best in Der
Kat^ensteg (1889); the period is that of the Napoleonic wars, but
the interest is psychological, not to say erotic (the hero loves his
dead father's sweetheart). Sudermann had begun with a collection
of short stories: Im Zmelicht (1886), trivial imitations of Mau-
passant; the short stories of Geschmster (1888) have that glowing
depiction of sensuality - hot blood and full flesh - which is the
note of his later fiction.

The success of Vor Sonnenaufgang was disputed; the first over-
whelming success of the new movement was that of Sudermann5 s
Die Ehre (1889). Looking backward now, one can see that the
success may have been due not to the identification of the drama
with the naturalistic movement, but to its skilful combination of
the old stage technique with the new social feeling. It was a