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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

84                    MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

save his heritage, but helpless in the grip of the Jew to whom he
has mortgaged it; in his children there is no help, for they are
degenerates; and when he can fight no more he hangs himself.
The doctrine of the salvation of agriculture by self-dedication to
it is enunciated in Der Grabenhager (1897): a landed gentleman, a
former officer with an officer's way with women and other things,
is helped by his wife to restore his decayed farms to prosperity.1
With TheklaLiidekmd(i<)oo) Polenz returns to the metropolis and
takes his part in the discussion of feminism by showing the quali-
ties of emancipated women and of those who live to love.

In Polenz's novels the anti-decadent note is implicit in his return
to country life and his unsympathetic handling of weak-willed
creatures; in those of KURT MARTENS (1870-1945) it is expressly
stressed. The masters Kurt Martens acknowledges are Stefan
George and above all Hugo von Hofmannsthal; and with Hof-
mannsthal he has the common interest in the influence of deca-
dence on personality. Whereas, however, Hofmannsthal portrays
himself in his decadents Kurt Martens is quite objective. His titles
alone indicate the stamp of his characters (Sinkende Schmmmer^
1892; Die gehet^ten Seelen, 1897; Roman aus der Decadence^ 1898):
but he turns the tables on these pretentious petty Nietzscheans
by branding their claim to licence by virtue of personality2 ('sidb
ausleben* is a catchword of the school) as merely the lack of disci-
pline of Philistines; he ranks an artist steeped in vice less than a
plodding dullard. The hero of Roman aus der Decadence lives the life
of the aesthetic snob: homosexuality, free love, boredom, con-
version to Catholicism, et toute la lyre; but, unlike Hofmannsthal's
Claudio, he frees himself from the cult of sensations and finds a
refuge in study. The hero of Die Vollendung (1902) fails to save
himself, but before he commits suicide he knows that his son will
reach safety - by his love for a girl from America; and it is inter-
esting that Martens points to English character as by national
habit sane and sound.

There is an intellectual rather than a moral conquest of natural-
istic depression in the later fiction of ANNA CROISSANT-RUST (1860-

1 Adalbert Stifter's Brigitta (1843) romantically handles the same theme for
a Hungarian estate.

2 The typical decadent of this type is Hermann Conradi, in whose flaunting
of vice there is at least the pretence of the desire to rise by the satisfaction of
impulses (Triebe) above and beyond them. Dehmel, by his own showing,
achieved salvation in this way.