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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

1)4                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

of Christian charity. The agent of conversion is a demonic cat
which turns out to be the hero's own faint life lying like a dead
weight on his chest. Fidelia is the story of a bovine bass opera
singer (Bassbuffd) - formerly a locksmith - who murders his mis-
tress in a fit of jealousy and afterwards hardly remembers the deed.
He is schizophrenetic, and it is only when, after release from
prison, he is nobly treated that he realizes what he is and what he
has done, and sets out with his forgiving wife and children to
begin a new life in America. His father was a Slav, and there is
the implication that the criminal half of his psychology comes
from the paternal side. There is the same generous interpretation
of moral disgrace and degradation in Das Gitter (1923), a study of
incest on the part of brother and sister. Josef Montfort (1918) has
elements of the macabre novel, while Elli odersieben Treppen (1920)
records a girl student's descent to prostitution. To begin with she
acts as secretary to a learned writer, who is taken to be Karl
Wolfskehl. The book is notable for its presentation with malice
prepense of the overwrought Georgean atmosphere. In 1938 he
found asylum in New York and did not return till 1950; in New
York he wrote his last novels Rudolf Er^erum oder des Lebens Ein-
fachheit (1945)3 Janna du Coeur (1949), and Der Geisterlehrting und
seine Prawn (1949). The scene of Jama du Coeur shifts from Eng-
land in the time of Cromwell to Germany after the Peace of West-
phalia; the novel has the atmosphere and colouring of BarocM,
but the heroine matures in the chaos of a post-war period in which
our own period is adumbrated.

The next school of lyrists, 'die Charontiker', definitely opposed
George's antique and Romance culture and demanded a German
style and a simplicity which should without strain and without
scanning by feet express the 'immanent rhythm' Holz demanded.
The monthly journal of the group, Der Char on > was founded in
1904 by OTTO ZUR LINDE (1873-1938) and Rudolf Pannwitz. Charon
is conceived as the ferryman plying between the reality of today
and the realm of dream and spirit beyond. It was in Charon that
the term 'expressionism' was used for the first time by Otto zur
Linde in 1911. Historically considered the importance of the
Charontiker lies in the influence they have had on the develop-
ment of poetic form. As to the rejection of scansion the problem
is: how much of this derives from the Dionysian rhythms of
Nietzsche's Zarathustra or from Walt Whitman's 'barbarous yawp' ?