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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

74                    MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

would destroy her she seizes him in the very frenzy of his hate,
for sexual desire is the adoration she craves. There is much play
with elusive symbols: particularly with the dagger, or spear-head,
of the hero's Welsh ancestor, which is at the same time an attribute
of the cat-headed goddess (=phallus): the hero, in his successive
incarnations, can only save his soul - and even then only when
life is ending - by preserving this instrument from the greed of
the evil powers. The mystic illumination of the problem of life
comes from a weird rabbi who is versed in cabbalistic lore: and
the lesson is (apparently) that man must choose between suppres-
sion after death or suppression in life of the brute element of sex -
in other words between flesh and spirit, and that the true alchem-
istic transmutatio is achieved by the hermaphroditic marriage of
the male with the female (element) within himself: thus Sir John
Dee might win 'the Queen'1; not, as he deludes himself, Queen
Elizabeth - who gives herself to him only as Isis in the shape of a
succubus and lures his descendant in our own days as the medieval
Dame World, fair in front and with hollow back wreathed with
slimy snakes -, but the irradiation through strain and suffering of
personality.

This cult of spooks, vampires, and demons has, of course, not
been the monopoly of the Prague Jews: it occurs in the Novellen of
Josef Ruederer (Tragikomodien), of Oscar A. H. Schmitz (Haschisch>
1892), in Gerhart Hauptmann's plays and fiction, in Wilhelm
WallothV (1850-1932) Im Banne der Hypnose (1897), and in the
later work of Wilhelm von Scholz. In the light of all this hair-
raising matter Goethe's stage-directions following line 5298 of
Faust II are amusing: (Die Nacht- und Grabdichter lassen sich ent-
schuldigen^ mil sie soeben im interessantesten Gesprdch mit einem frisch-
erstandenen Vampyren begriffen sezen, woraus eine nem Dichtart sich ml-
kicht entmckeln konnte* Goethe's contempt for 'hideous vampirism'
comes out in his review of Merimee's La Gu^la (1827).

1  See Faust, 1,1.1047. There is much use of this passage in the book; the
*red lion* appears variously, literally as the tamed pet of Kaiser Rudolf.

2 One of M. G. Conrad's Munich group. He tried to better Georg Ebers
by making the archaeological novel naturalistically real, but did worse
(Qktavia, 1885; Paris der Mime, 1886; Ovid, 1890; Eros, 1906).