76 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE strata of society concerned. Roughly stated, the difference between naturalism and decadence is that between Zola on the one hand and Maupassant, Huysmans in his second period, and Oscar Wilde on the other hand. There is, however, another line of growth: if to be a decadent is to be a man of delicate artistic perceptions - 'aesthete' (Aesthet\ man of nerves (Nervenmensch) - but weak will, then its true home is Vienna.1 But Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, a Swiss patrician of Zurich, had the same incapacity to face the noise and hardness of life2; and therefore, though Viennese writers through the ages tend to this shrinking softness, decadence is a matter (if it is real and not merely the fashion of the day) of indi- vidual mentality and physique: the problem of real decadence or of literary decadence meets us in the work of, say, Sudermann and Ompteda - both solid Germans with the stamina of cart- horses - contrasted with Heinz Tovote with his Parisian elegance and neurotic thrills. Definitely a decadent was the Viennese writer FERDINAND VON SAAR (1833-1906); and we may say that he is the link between the involuntary decadence of Grillparzer and Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and the deliberate cult of decadence of the nineties. In one of his lyrics, Die Entarteten, Saar laments for those who are tainted before birth (erblich beiastet, a favourite term which derives from the ter- minology of the alienists as much as from Darwin), battle vainly against secret sins, and die at last by their own hands or by those of the public executioner. This is the note, too, of many of Saar's short stories (Novellen aus Qsterreich, 1876 and 1897): his effeminate characters fail helplessly in whatever they undertake. (He himself died by his own hand.) His Die Steinklopfer (1873) is generally classed as 'die erste Arbeiternovelli, while the heroine of his Die Troglodytin is an ex-convict woman tramp; and certainly the four short stories of his Die Tragik des Lebens (1894) rank him with the naturalists of the day. This wave of sympathy in literature with the downtrodden and the outcast is of course a reflection of the social and political trend of the period; the law against Socialists (So%ialistengesefc£) had to be abrogated in 1890; and Kaiser Wilhelm's known disgust at the performance in Berlin of Die Weber merely acted as an advertise- 1 See p. 210. 2 Cf. with his poem Abendrot im Walde Cowper's description of himself as a 'stricken deer*. Sonntags mirrors his morbid love of solitude.