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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

50                     MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

proper she passes to an officer of the reserves, and while his mis-
tress she sees her fill of painters and poets, Secessionists and Sym-
bolists. This is the outstanding part of the book. Sudermann does
not paint the aesthetes as decadent; he is hostile, but he gives them
their brilliance, their vitality, their rebellious courage. And the
moral is that which - illusorily may be - gives its reason d'etre to
Sudermann's best work from Frau Sorge onwards: that there must
be corruption where there is idleness, and that only in work is
salvation - steady, even unremunerative work such as that of the
historian of the Emotions, who is the only respectable character
in the book. It was this more or less flaunted gospel of labour set
in relief against decay which has in later years given Sudermann
a kind of renascence in the German film. In the short tales of Die
indische Litie (1911) the thrills are again of the physical sort; there
is once more the diapason of Sudermannian adjectives: wonnig^
schauernd, ^uckend, reifgekusst. In l^itauische Geschichten (1917), how-
ever, Sudermann weaves the intimity of his native district - the
Memelland - into a series of tales which have the genuine human-
ity of Frau Sorge.

LUDWIG FULDA (1862-1939) has that mastery of form which goes
to the making of a first-class translator; and possibly his transla-
tions of Moliere and Rostand will live longer than his own plays,
though Der Talisman (1895) and Der Sohn des Kalifen (1896) have
importance in the revival of the verse Mdrchendrama. Fulda, though
there was nothing in his composition (rather that of the cloistered
scholar) of social pity, attempted a naturalistic drama in Das ver-
lorene Paradies (1890), in which workmen strike and get what they
want because their spokesman wins over the employer's daughter.
MAX HALBE (1865-1944) brought the landscapes and the mentality
of Eastern Germany, with contrasts of German and Polish char-
acter, into the naturalistic play. His DerEisgang (1892) symbolizes
in the breaking of the ice on the Vistula the loosed flood-tide of
Socialism sweeping away all rotten barriers. Halbe's Jugend (1893)
was one of the great successes of the period. The scene is in Poland,
in the home of an old Catholic priest; with him lives his niece, a
girl of eighteen, the child of an unmarried mother. A cousin, who
is just about to go to the university, comes on a visit. The two
young people are left too much alone, and the girl goes the same
way as her mother had done; her half-brother, a species of idiot,
aims a bullet at the student; it misses him, but kills the girl. What