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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NEO-ROMANTIC   AND  AUSTRIAN  DRAMATISTS        229

in her blood when the tempter - whom she sees through and
despises - presses his urge for her body with all the skill of practice.
Beer-Hofmann's theme is obviously - and this it was which made
the play a draw on the stage - that the most refined and decent
woman is at given moments a bitch in heat. This revolting idea is
over-stressed; and indeed there is no dramatic possibility of the
delicate girl we have seen in Act III allowing herself to be taken,
in Act IV, to the filthy inn which in Act I we have seen as the
haunt of profligates and of old men with boys. What is good is
the revelation of the distinguished old judge's state of mind (senile
eroticism in a perverted form): he has married in old age, without
love and to have a child who should cherish his declining years
(hence, perhaps, the medical motivation of his daughter's weak
character - like Baudelaire she is the child of senility); and he
recoils in horror when his secretary suggests to him that even his
daughter may need a husband, for she is (ghastly word!) a 'WeiV.
And therefore he finds her a husband who - since he would go
to prison for a corpse - must be noble. In the hectic 5th Act,
which has strong dramatic (if sensational) effects, Charolais forces
the father to judge his own daughter, and she stabs herself. What
drives her to death is not tragic guilt, but the cruel force behind
existence: c "Er" trieb mis - treibttms! "Es!" Nif&t ich - mchtduT -
Beer-Hofrnann?s second drama, Jadkobs Traum (1918), belongs to
the not inconsiderable biblical literature1 of the period; it was
intended to be the Vorspid of a monumental trilogy, Die Historie
von Konig David, but the depressing conditions of the post-War
period stayed the poet's always hesitant pen. His poern Scblaflied
fur Mirjam has been famous and anthologized since it first ap-
peared in the 4th year of Pan', one fails to see, however, that there
is anything in it except the wistful questioning of cwhence ?' and
'whither?' and the heritage within us of our ancestors so familiar
from Maeterlinck and Hofmannsthal.

ARTHUR SCHNITZLER (1862-1931) was born in Vienna, and lived
there, as a practising physician and famous author, all his life. One

1 The Christ-novels have a chronological scale of effectiveness: Peter
Rosegger's I.N.R.L (1905), Gustav Frenssen's HilUgenhi (1906), Gerhart
Hauptmann's Der Narr in Christo Ematwel Quint (1910). When in Johannes
Schlaf's tale Jesus und Miriam (1901) Alary Magdalene, dancing in a tavern,
sees Jesus and falls in love with Him, the consciousness of His Messianic
calling stirs in Him. Then there are notable poems of Rilke, Sudermann,
Stefan Zweig's Jeremias> Thomas Mann's Tales of Jacob, Anton Wildgans*
drama Kain (1920), Karl WolfkehFs drama Saul. See also p. 256, Der Heiland,