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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

STEFAN   GEORGE   AND   HIS   CIRCLE                 149

George is credited with having formulated the rule: Kommas sind
fur Kommis. In his treatment of separable prefixes he goes with the
philosophers, who may require the literal meaning of each part of
the word; thus da-sein has its literal meaning and not the paled
significance otDasein. George's grammar is only occasionally wil-
ful. He makes a phrase more opaque by using the Saxon genitive
after a preposition: In all der sommerstunden gluhender durre . . . Mit
deimr steikn gebusche verschwiegnem verlies \ Sonnig gebreiteter gdnge nie
furchendem kies. He copies the delightful practice of children who
make weak verbs strong; but he would not intend his ^ugewunken
to have the same effect as little Alice's 'he wunk at me', and equally
entertaining is Bis euch der sturm in weite odenjug. Warden uns erdachte
seligkeiten must make any philologist wince. His invention of verbal
nouns (welke for Welken, kite for Leitung) is otiose, and in his
parading of Middle High German words (tucht for Zucbt, selde for
Gliick) etc.) he misses the magic effect of Rilke in Die heiligen drei
Konige. His obsession for foreign words may sometimes prove a
pitfall for the unwary: thus denkbild in his verse does not mean
'monument' \xti.gedachtes'Bild\ it is the Dutch denkbeeld taken over
to mean the Apollonian vision of a shape. Ewe, too, has the mean-
ing of Dutch eewv ( = century). He may clip a senseless syllable
(ddcbtnis for Gedachtnis\ but he permits himself an occasional
Dichter-e and archaic forms such v&flettcht tozfliegt. He uses die for
die(jenigen\ die-, i.e. he omits the demonstrative. He will make a
preposition serve for adverb (tmd vdter die ich seit %ur gruft geleitef)
or for conjunction (Der kelch einer ^eitlose duftete vor er sich schloss}.
His syntax is fairly normal, but he plays with Romance construc-
tions and anacolutha.

The subtlety of George's technique does not lie in such curios-
ities; it lies in his modulation of vowels (u=Susse; ei^'Eisigkeit;
etc.) to evoke differing moods, his manipulation of alliteration,
and his tireless variation of these tonal qualities. These devices
give him a gorgeous (or shall we say Georgeous ?) style which
can at once be detected as his if any scrap of it is put before one
who has once read his way into it.

George's metrical qualities will inevitably be compared with
those of Rilke, and here there are two features which no one can
miss: firstly George's preference for monosyllables, and secondly
his avoidance of or peculiar use of enjambment. George's enjamb-
ment is often illusory. In other words he has a sharply defined