220 MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE primitive animal nature which the decency of custom merely covers. What this in practice amounts to is that some strange sexual act or frenzy is interpreted as human; and tragedy, instead of being, in the Aristotelian sense, a purification of passion in the spectator, is an exposure of the roots of passion and mental disease in the protagonist. Thus tragedy is turned to a discussion of sex pathology, the result being that the canon of 'tragic guilt' fades out of the picture, for guilt is explained as the product of intro- versions and repressions. The vogue of these pathological studies probably owes something to the writings and example of Arthur Schnit2ler, who as editor of the Internationale klinische Rundschau discussed the theories of Krafft-Ebing,1 Freud,2 and Lombroso.3 Alkestis (1894) was written immediately after the essay on Swin- burne. It reads the poet's preoccupation with death and the fear of it into the tragedy of Euripides. The Fates have promised Admetus that he shall be spared death, provided always that, when the time comes, someone will offer to pass to the shades in his place. The call comes; and none will make the sacrifice of life except his beautiful young wife. His father, a walking shadow, clings to the shred of life that remains to him. The handling of the problem - why should death take those whose life is precious to themselves and to others - seems amateurish if compared at a glance with the rigid logic of the pre-Renaissance discussion of the theme, Der Ackermann aus Bohmen: actually in Hofmannsthal's version the effect is apt to be comical; for not logic but pathos is the means of appeal. In Elektra (1904) there is perhaps more of Oscar Wilde's Salome than of Sophocles: the imitations are in- deed as glaring as they are in Vollmoeller's Katharina, Grafin von Armagnac. There were several translations Q*s.Salomey one by Hed- wig Lachmann; and as one of Max Reinhardt's gorgeously pic- torial productions it held the stage for years.4 The influence of the English play is shown in the concentration of the interest on the ragged figure of Electra - she never leaves the stage - while Orestes is reduced to a minor figure. The theme of both Salome and Ekktra is the sexual repression of the heroine. In the drama of Sophocles there is merely a hint of such a conception: the name 1 See p. 37. 2 Studien fiber Hysterie (1895), Iraumdmtung (1900). * La Donna Mnqwnte, la Prostituta e la Donna normah (1893). 4 The German picture of Salome may owe much to the description of Gustave Moreau's painting in Huysmans' A rebours (1884).