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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMATISTS  OF  NATURALISM                 47

("the woman with a past5), and the man who seduced her when
she was a girl, now a man of position, The latter is willing to
marry a prima donna; and when the father hears the whole story
he sees no other way out; the lady, however, has developed more
than her chest; she despises the man who had abandoned her; her
father levels a pistol at her, but has an apoplectic fit, and falls dead
before he can pull the trigger. Heimat has again the traditional
elements of the burgerlicbes Trauerspiel: conflict between father and
daughter, between passion and respectability, between social strata
(here middle-class society and Bohemianism).

Das Gluck im Winkel (1896) leaves the Sodomic city for the
landed estates of the junkers, who by Sudermann's showing are as
morally rotten as the Berlin plutocrats. In this play we get Suder-
mann5 s first type of the rural superman, to whom any woman is
fair game; 'Icb mil Weiber . . .,' he says, 'Icb brauche Weiber . . . Icb
kann nicht leben ohne Weiber' The woman here concerned is a friend
of his cold-blooded wife; she is poor, but, as von Rocknitz (with
his experience) can see through her dress, she is full passionate
woman. This contrast of cold dignified dame and hot lover is the
theme both of Sudermann and Eduard von Keyserling, and by
comparing these two writers of East Germany we can see where
Sudermann fails: Sudermann gives us sheer brutality while Keyser-
ling very delicately shows the inevitability, given the race and the
milieu., of both the chaste lady on the one side and the sensual
violence of j linker and female inferior on the other. The heroine
of Das Glitck im Winkel,, like Lessing's Emilia Galotti, fears her
blood, and to escape the danger she marries the headmaster of a vil-
lage elementary school, but von Rocknitz, finding her out, forces
a confession that she loves him, and she is only saved from suicide
by the generous intervention of her husband, who is warned by
his blind daughter (by an earlier marriage). And so the woman's
lot will be that happiness in a lost corner which, as the revelation
of character in the play demonstrates, may be the irony of life.
A volume of three one-act plays, Morituri (1897), contains what is
generally agreed to be Sudermann's masterpiece - if he was capa-
ble of a masterpiece. This is Fritiyben. A lieutenant of dragoons,
Fritzchen, comes home unexpectedly, to the delight of his invalid
mother, his father (a fiery old officer of his son's regiment), and
his cousin, whom in the natural course of things he should marry
- but his father had told him to sow his wild oats first. He has to