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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

VI

STEFAN GEORGE
AND HIS CIRCLE

Dehmel assimilated French symbolism, but remained Ger-
man to the core; his matter is Nietzschean touched up
with decadent refulgence. In Stefan George (1868-1933)
and his 'circle' Romance influence is predominant. Reminiscences
of the German Romanticists, however, and above all of Holderlin,
deepen the French ultra-refinement of George; and two German
poets with whom he has striking affinities are Platen, an artificer
of verse equally patient though with tools less delicate, and Conrad
Ferdinand Meyer, an aristocrat equally feminized by French cul-
ture, one who in an equal degree was pained by contact with
crowds and who likewise veiled his personal experience in recon-
dite symbols. Something, too, of the atmosphere and colouring of
the English Pre-Raphaelites and aesthetes illumines the Mallarmean
scroll of George, in whose work are renderings of Rossetti, Swin-
burne, and Ernest Dowson. This poetry of George and his circle
is, literally, I'art pour Tart (Artistmktmst\ and they are academically
classed as die Artisten; they seek to displace Stoffkunst or naturalism
by Formkunst. In this respect they still further refine the formal
perfection of the Munich school (and for aristocratic aloofness
Stefan George might well be compared to Graf von Schack); but
there is the vital difference that whereas the poets of the Munich
school regard clearness of meaning as a necessary quality of per-
fect form George writes only for those who have the mental
keenness to pierce to the sense - to him Formvollendung means
mathematical precision of rhythm and stanza and symmetrical
construction with unity of idea of each volume of verse.

Stefan George was born at Biidesheim, near Bingen on the
Rhine; his father was the landlord of the