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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUMORISTS,   SATIRISTS,   SATANISTS,  VISIONARIES    71

if the brain could by its own vitality exert dominion and shape
life to perfection; but the vital force of the brain cannot be sun-
dered from that sexual vigour which makes full man: either there
is vigour of sex or decay of the organism as a whole. The hero of
Totenmesse is Przybyszewski as scientific thinker: the second tale,
Vigilien (1894), presents him as the artist with sense and soul
yearning for woman - as a 'balance* of his being, not, however
to provide the contrary half to his masculinity, but to serve this
forceful masculinity as a stimulus to artistic creation or as a nar-
cotic. In the trilogy Homo Sapiens (1895-6) there is an examination
of sex in all its possible manifestations and a more particular
synthesis of the physical thrills of Catholic ritualism and Satanism
(such as we get in Huysmans); and in this novel as in Satans Kinder
(1897) Przybyszewski attempts, but in vain, to individualize his
characters. Przybyszewski's importance in literary history lies in his
preaching of sex as the ineluctable purpose of life and as the creat-
ive organ of art and literature. 'Art', he says, 'is nothing but a
game that sex plays with brain.51 And, since life is made up of pain
and disgust (Schopenhauer's doctrine), what life springs from-that
is, sex - must be the same. It would be easy to show how Przybys-
zewski's doctrine is worked out by later writers: Madenseiigkeit, for
instance, by Thomas Mann (in Der Zauberberg particularly), and
the vampire clutch of woman in Gerhart Hauptmann's work
(particularly in Im Wirbel der Berufrng). And, thus reasoning,
Przybyszewski brands woman as 'dulce malum et vitwsa propago\ as
the bait of Satan and temptation in the flesh. In this demonization
of woman he agrees with the three Frauenhasser Schopenhauer,
Nietzsche, and Strindberg; but Dehmel, while accepting sex as a
demonic force, proclaims the power of the individual to transform
this summum malum into the summum bonum by transfusing body
with spirit.

Satanism in the stories of HANNS HEINZ EWERS (i 871-1943) takes
on the form of Prussian Schrecklichkeit, although he comes from
the jolly Rhineland (he was born at Diisseldorf). The sub-title of his
volume of short stories Das Gramn (1907) is ''Selfsame Geschichteri'\
and the strangeness of them is in direct line of descent from
E. T. A. Hoffmann and Edgar Allen Poe (on whom he wrote an

1 Wilhelm Bolsche in his Die naturwissenschaftlichen Grundlagen der Poesie
(1887) puts the same view more scientifically. Remy de Gourmont put the
view more succinctly: 'Poetry is produced by the genitals/