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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUGO  VON   HOFMANNSTHAL                       217

on the poet's self-centred seclusion - such a man, he says, is
morally dead; and Keats argues that the life of the dreamer who
lives in a factitious world of art is selfish. But self-centred seclusion
is the very condition (according to Stefan George and Rilke) of
poetry for poetry's sake! It would be rash, however, to conclude
that Hofmannsthal is contradicting the Georgean creed. What
interests him is the mystery of the death hour and the presentation
of the decadent type; and indeed nearly all his male characters live
remote from the realities and poignancy of life in a dream world
of their own creating. Contrasted with these men of finely strung
nerves are HofmannsthaPs women (from the smith's wife in Idylle
onwards), whom the men cannot understand.

The plays which follow Der Tor und der Tod often betray, as
the lyrics do, the influence of Maeterlinck: the characters are
marionettes:

Es war9 mir lieber, mnn nicht Menscben
Dies spielen wurden, sondern grosse Puppen,
Von einem, der*s versteht, geknkt an Drabten.
Sie haben erne gren^enlose Anmut
In ihren aufgelds ten leichten Gliedern 
Und mekr als Menschen durfen sie der Last
Und der Ver^weiflung sich hingeben
Und bleiben schbn dabei . . .

DasBergwerk ^u Falun (1899) is a dramatization of E. T. A. Hoff-
mann's tale; the hero feels lonely in the company of men; alone
he feels the companionship of spirits. The theme is that sojourn
on earth should be a preparation for the spirit world. The ascetic
hero of Der Kaiser und die Hexe (1897) sets himself the task of
liberating himself from the toils of a woman, who has enslaved
him for seven years, by keeping away from her seven days and
nights; she appears to him in visions, as a dove, an empress, etc.
The grandmother in Der misse Father (1897) is, like Titian, an
exponent of the life-force; nibil a se alimum putat\ she loves life.
The hero and heroine conquer by renunciation - as do Vittoria in
Der Abenteurer und die Sangerin, the old merchant in Die Hoch^eit
der Sobeide, and the poet in Das kleine Welttbeater (1897), who,
cheated by life, finds in his poetry consolation and the will to live.
Theater in Versen (1899) collects the three following recently pro-