Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats


however, and in the misery of poverty betrays the revolutionary
aims of the party to the police. There is the same feeling for the
masses1 in Hans Land's other novels (Stiefkinder der Gesellschaft,
1888; Die am Wege sterben, 1889; Sunden, 1892). There is more of
the stuff of literature, despite the dismal flatness of the narration,
in FELIX HOLLANDER'S (i^6-j-i^i) Jesus und Judas (1891): a student
would fain be a Jesus to the workers but is forced by poverty to
be a Judas - he betrays his party and jumps into the Spree. Hol-
lander's most famous novel - one of the most notable of the whole
period - is Der Weg des Thomas Truck (1902); the hero is the son
of a provincial doctor who turns Socialist; in Berlin he has a dis-
appointment with the wife of a millionaire who refuses to give up
her life of luxury to share his ideals of social service; he marries a
girl he meets at a Salvation Army meeting, a seamstress addicted
to drink; she commits suicide, and he goes to the dogs in the
Bohemian life of the capital, but is rehabilitated by his love for his
cousin, and finds peace for his soul in Buddhism and the teaching
of Tolstoy. WILHELM HEGELER (1870-1947) was a man of good
family who literally for conscience' sake turned proletarian. In his
first novel, Mutter bertha (1893), an unmarried mother gives way
to a doctor to save her child's life, and then makes good by hard
work and self-sacrifice for the sake of the child. This theme of
moral excellence latent in a 'fallen' woman and triumphing in the
idea that the child is salvation occurs in a number of outstanding
novels, from Helene Bohlau's Das JLecbt der Mutter to Vicki Baum's
Stud. Ckem* Helene Willfuer. Hegeler's best novels are Ingenieur
Horstmann (1900) and Pastor Klinghammer (1903); in each the hero
is a violent character whose blood gets the better of his culture.
Imitation of Zola in the sense of a heaping up from chapter to
chapter of documented material is confined to early naturalism,
although of course sporadically the process survives. What hap-
pened was that photographic naturalism was transformed by that
surgical probing into states of nerves of which Maupassant (1850-
93) was master. And as soon as the influence can be diagnosed as
that of Maupassant we can no longer classify a work definitely as
naturalism: studies of nerves belong to decadentism, and decadent-
ism (since neurotic obsession and decay show in unreal impres-
sions of the outer world) is more or less a part of impressionism.
Sudermann from the first imitates Maupassant in his fiction, but
he continues the poetic realism of his German predecessors, par-