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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

78                        MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

never mastered grammar and, despite his naturalistic doctrine,
made his working people talk as they do in penny novelettes, did
manage to animate his Anklageliteratur by something like poetic
symbol: admirably almost in his best novel, Meister Timpe (1888),
which has for theme the crushing of the small independent crafts-
man by the mass production of factories; the crawling of the
railway over old Berlin and past his little workshop has a night-
mare effect. Fanatically as Kretzer imitates Zola's 'literature of
accusation' a more congenial influence on him was that of Dickens;
and indeed it is generally true of the novelists of naturalism that
the influence of Zola is mainly on subject-matter. Like Dickens,
he puts the matter of his own early experiences into his fiction: in
Der Fassadenraphael (1911) he relates how he earned his living as
a sign-writer, and the description of life in a lamp factory in Der
alte Andreas (Berliner Sittenbilder, 1911) is also autobiographical,
while in his memoirs, Wilder Champagner^ T&erliner ILrinnerungen und
Studien^ he describes his apprenticeship to a china merchant. He
has neither the humanity nor the variety of Dickens: his range is
limited to the life of workers and outcasts, and to him this life is
slavery; where the wealthier classes come into his picture he does
not rise above caricature which betrays his complete ignorance of
the ways and speech of better class society. Of his novels - all of
them strictly Berliner T-Lomane - Die Retrogenen (i88z) has in outline
of plot some resemblance to David Copperfield\ it is the first full
novel to describe the life of industrial workers in the capital, and
its essential premise is that girls who work in factories must in-
evitably augment their earnings by prostitution. Die Verkommenen
(1883) suggests Uttle Dorrit, with the substitution of the Berlin
block of flats (Mietskaserne) for the Marshalsea Prison. Meister
Timpe, with its pathetic lament for the ever-growing mechaniza-
tion of the world, derives apparently from both Zola's AuBonheur
des Dames and Dickens's Hard 'Times. Quite Zolaesque is Drei
Weiber (1886), with its discussion of the man with more than one
wife. There is satire of religion in Die 'Rergpredigt (1890); Der
Millionenbauer (1891) reflects the moral ruination by sudden wealth
of the farmer whose land has been swallowed up in the Grunder-
jahre by the expansion of Berlin; in Das Gesicht Christi (1897) the
Saviour moves as a symbol of pity among the poor of Berlin.

The Berliner Roman is of course a subdivision of the Grossstadt-
roman^ but practically speaking the metropolitan novel of early