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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

FROM  BAHR  TO   DEHMEL                           89

experience, was not strenuous: all that he wrote has the stamp of
ease, and - taken en masse - a lack of depth; what gives it interest is
the catholicity of his friendships and his capacity of appreciation
of all styles and phases of literature and art. On his Russian travels
he discovered Eleonora Duse, and is credited with having made
her reputation. In Renaissance (1897) he proclaimed that the work
of Hofmannsthal and Schnitzler heralded a new era in art, and he
introduced to fame more than the close circle (*Jung Wien') who
gathered round him to listen to his oracular discourse in the Cafe
Griensteidl in Vienna, where he settled after his meteoric appear-
ance in Berlin. His plays and novels are difficult to characterize:
they would have to be classified in periods corresponding to his
chameleon-like changes from Socialist and naturalist to impres-
sionist and finally to a Roman Catholic and expressionist with the
pose of a reformer of ethics. (He of all people! , . , ) His natural-
istic dramas have historical interest: Die neuen Menscben (1887) is
modelled on Ibsen, and with its revolutionary hero between two
women is in some sort a forerunner of Hauptmann's lELinsame
Menschen\ his Die Mutter (1891), a pendant to Strindberg's The
"Father, shocked even the naturalists by its sexual craziness. In the
traditional Viennese style of popular play (Volksstucke) are his Aus
der Vorstadt (1893; in collaboration with Karlweis1), Das Tschaperl
(1898), Das Fran^l (1901). There is Viennese atmosphere, too, in
his Napoleon drama, Josephine (1898), and Der Krawpus (1901)
conjures up the colourful grace of Maria Theresa's days, when
Klopstock was the rage. Bahr's problem plays - Der Apostel, 1901;
Der Meister, 1903; Sanna, 1905; Der arme Narr, 1905 (whose hero
has Hugo Wolf for model) - are admittedly weak. Bahr is more
in his element when he handles current problems in the comedy
vein; thus Die Kinder (1910) touches the problem of incest and
Das Prin^ip (1912) disproves the theory of democratic equality by
showing what follows when a Tolstoyan reformer agrees to the
engagement of his son, a grammar-school boy, to a cook whose
billowing bosom has revealed woman to him in a dance. Bahr's
real successes were his comedies - or better farces. Two, which
deal with conditions on the stage, are not without venom: Der
Star (i 899) makes game of actresses, and Diegelbe Nachtigall(1907),
in which a malicious actor foists a Hungarian girl on a manager

1 (=Karl Weiss, 1850-1901.) He wrote good Volksstucke \ Das grobe Hemd
(1897), Der kleine Mann (1896).