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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

148                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

No wonder that Goebbels sent George a telegram of congratulation
on his birthday - which, one hears, George never acknowledged.
The Fuhrer may have been taking the poet-dictator's birthright.1
In any case it is not quite clear whether George's Third Reich
can be identified with that which was now established. George's
Reich, like that of Rilke, should be of the spirit. Surely George's
own message is that they who would enter the spiritual realm
must cast off race and homeland and family:

Dies ist reich des geistes: abglan^
Meines retches . . Neugestaltet^ neugeboren
Wird hierjeder: ort der wiege
Heitnat bkibt em marchenklang.
Durch die sendung durch den segen
Tauscht ihr sippe stand und namen
Vtiter mutter sind nicht mehr.

Stefan George died on December 4th, 1933, and was buried at
Minusio. He had lived through nearly a year of Nazi rule. The
rumour that in his will he asked that he should not be buried in
Germany is false but significant.

A first glance at Stefan George's verse is likely to repel a new-
comer. It is intended to; the orthographical peculiarities have been
described as barbed wire to scare intruders (^Stacheldraht wider
Unberufene*). The new reader can only prove that he does not belong
to fas. profanum vulgus by reading desperately on; and if he does so
it is quite likely that familiarity will breed comprehension. The
salient innovation is that capitals for nouns are discarded. Histor-
ically these date only from the seventeenth century as a device of
ornamental Baroque; Jakob Grimm rejected them, and since his
days small letters for nouns have been a feature of Gelehrtendeutsch.
George uses capitals for strong emphasis. Where he has his own
spelling he is strictly logical, as in le%t for let^t. His punctuation,
after all, is just that of lawyers drawing up wills, and for the same
reason: the pith of the meaning, because it is so vitally important,
is guarded by being run on without stops or with very few.

1 Hans Naumann dedicates the 6th edition of his Deutsche Dichtung der
Gegemvart (1933) to 'Unsere Fuhrer\ that is, George and Hitler, and draws a
parallel between the two; both spring from the holy lap of sound peasant
stock, both are unfettered by kith and kin and wife (tmbesippt und unbeweibt\
both cherish the same ideals of race and leadership, both have grown tree-
like speech by speech and Ring by Ring, and both live only for followers and
Cause.