THE NOVEL OF NATURALISM AND DECADENCE 83 Eysen is the saga of a whole family, and Cacilie von Sarryn unfolds the poignant tragedy of the old maid of noble family. The total theme of the cycle is the struggle for existence of an entire noble family; thus Deutscher Adel urn 1900 does for the nobility what Thomas Mann's Euddenbrooks does for a patrician family in a Hanse city; and in both it is the disintegration of the solid old stock by the nervous debility of modern life, with its problematic culture, which interprets the tragedy. The imitation of Maupassant is most glaring in Ompteda's early collection of short stories I^eidenschaften (1896), with their ironical humour and piquant situations. The theme of Maupassant's En Familk - the frustration of artistic ambition by the fetters of marriage to a modern Delilah - occurs in Phitister uber Dir! (1899). Two novelists, Wilhelm von Polenz and Kurt Martens, share with Johannes Schlaf the credit of aiming, for ethic and racial reasons, at the conquest of decadentism. WILHELM VON POLENZ (1861-1903), like Ompteda a retired officer, is today given rank as one of the forerunners of the Elut- undEoden novel; and it is true that in his agrarian novels he describes in patient detail the con- ditions of his native province of Upper Lusatia. Tales of his such as Heinrich von Kleist (1891) hardly count except for the subject1; and the sexual details of Suhne (i 890), a novel of adultery, merely show dependence on Zola. Markedly Zolaesque too is Wur^ellocker (1902), a study of industrial and artist life. Der Pfarrer von Breiten- ^?r/"(i893) definitely places Polenz with the best novelists of his period. It is the first of a series of novels (e.g. Frenssen's Hilligenlei, Lulu von Strauss und Torney's Lucifer, Hermann Stehr's Der Heiligenbof) in which religious experience dominates the shaping forces of environment; in Polenz's tale the clergyman hero, like Casar Flaischlen's Martin Lehnhardt, wrestles with his faith and casts it aside, while another clergyman seeks release from doubt in death. DerEuttnerbauer (1895) is by common consent something of a masterpiece, not only because it vividly renders the landscape and rural atmosphere of Upper Lusatia and is therefore a new start, after the spate of metropolitan novels, in the peasant novel, but because of its powerful characterization of the Biittnerbauer, a farmer of the old school, obstinate and tireless in his labour to 1 Georg Hirschfeld's short story Damon Kteist probably suggested the title of Stefan Zweig's book of biographical essays (with a very frank interpre- tation of Kleist's mentality) Der Kampf mit dtm Damon.