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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

FROM  BAHR   TO   DEHMEL                          105

be heroic and a law unto himself. Nietzsche's 'good European' is
Diihring's "modern European'.

One might sum up the effects of Nietzscheanism on literature
somewhat as follows:

1.  The cult of the superman appears principally in the glorifica-
tion of Renaissance characters; that is, mostly in historical plays;
and here there is continuity from Jakob Burckhardt and Gobineau
to Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and Nietzsche and from these three
Germans to impressionism. But the qualities of the OLenaissance-
mensch (Mensch der Tat9, 'Tafenmenscfr} may be transferred to modern
characters, with the main aspects of licentious egotism and ruth-
lessness, particularly in erotic experience; thus Heinrich Mann's
banker Tiirkheimer (I/;/ Schlaraffenland), a Genie der Tat who gathers
artists and poets round him in materialistic Berlin, and DehmePs
superman, who immunizes himself from pessimism by the heroic
gratification of his impulses, are Niet2schean derivatives. In this
conception of the ILenaissancemensch as jenseits von Gut mid Base
and wilfully 'wicked'1 the impressionists radically misunderstood
Nietzsche's idea of in die Tiefe steigen. What matters to the literary
critic, however, is that this false conception served as inspiration.
Another source of impressionist immoralism was Stendhal, in
whom Nietzsche had delighted; Heinrich Mann, for instance,
lauds Stendhal as cthe prophet of energy'.

2.  Decadent individualism leans on Nietzsche to justify its wor-
ship of the morbid ego. The text for this heroization of self-con-
tempt may be found variously in Nietzsche: e.g. "Was ist das
Grosste, das ihr erleben konnt? Das ist die Stunde dergrossen Verachtung.
Die Stunde in der euch amh euer Gluck ^um Ekel mrd und ebenso sure
Vernmft und eure Tugend. . . Was Hegt an meiner Tugend? Noch hatsie
mich nicht rasen gemacht? (Also sprach Zarathustra.} This, of course,
is a poor excuse for das rasende L,eben of impressionists and expres-
sionists; but it does provide a holy text. Stefan George's Algabal
or any satanistic hero of Heinrich Mann is intelligible as a syn-
thesis of Nietzsche and Baudelaire. The Neronism or Narcissism
of Stefan George - worship of self as individual - is also such a
synthesis. This Narcissism derives also from the works of Maurice

1 Actually Niet2sche denied the moral values of his day as contrary to
nature; his aim was to emancipate them by making * nature* and 'morality*
equivalent; the result would logically be 'natural immorality' or what he
himself termed 'moral naturalism*.