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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUGO   VOX   HOFMAXXSTHAL                      22J

ness of the existence of existence. These shreds of nature sweep us
off our feet because they are the £xed expression of an intense
emotional experience: just as, for instance,, grotesquely poised
boulders reveal the force of the tempest that flung them into the
picture they are. And therefore \vc cannot appreciate art unless
\ve realize the miracle of the feeling that produced it, Unterhaltung
fiber die Schriften ron Gottfried Keller reveals the Rembrandtesque
chiaroscuro of the Swiss writer, and illuminates his abrupt transi-
tions from the ridiculous to the pathetic. Das Gesprdib der Tan^e-
rinnen^ in which a Greek dancer is fascinated by a sailor's yarn of
life on a barbaric island, once more interprets a favourite therne
of HofmannsthaFs: the intolerable limpness (Dumpfhett] of life:
life is not save as vibrant emotion of the inner spirit, as on this
sailor's uncharted island, where there is a religious purity even in
passion. Life is not life unless it quivers with feeling, unless all
animal functions have that spiritualization which is pure nature
and is thus the expression of the divine. And this spiritualization
of life is HofmannsthaFs mysticism. Gesprdch fiber Gedichte inter-
prets poems of Stefan George in Das Jahr der Seele9 and from this
starting-point proceeds to a subtle discourse on the nature of
poetry.

HofmannsthaFs posthumous works are ^achlese der Gedicbte
(1954); Dramatische *Ejitn>urfe am dem ^\achlass (1936); Lor/s. Die
Pros a desjungen Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1930; his first writings had
been signed 'Loris'); Die "Reriihrtmg der Spbaren. Rjeden and Aufsdt^e
(1931); and Andreas oder die Vereinigten (1932). Andreas is the frag-
ment of a novel which was planned at the latest in 1911 and partly
written 1912-13. Notes from 1917 and 1918 are added. The poet's
reaction to post-War conditions prevented completion. It was to
have been a sort of Austrian Wilhdm Meister, the record of a
spiritual journey and the ripening of a soul. It depicts Venetian
types in whose wickedness there is always something redeeming.
Venetians are always masked, and thus are compact of dualism;
whereas the Northerner is simple, and what he seems. Under the
influence of this Venetian dualism Andreas finds his nature split-
ting into two halves, and he can only restore his double self to
integration by fleeing from Venice - that is, from beauty and
romance, which is the lure of life - to morality, to simplicity -
which (perhaps) is happiness. (Flight from Venice - and beauty -
we have again in Thomas Mann's Tod in Venedig.)