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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

236                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

life-like. His most poignant Novelle is Sterben (1895): a young
man hears from his doctor that within a year he will be dead of
consumption; his mistress refuses to leave him, and she nurses
him through the dreadful illness in a lovely region of a southern
coast. As death approaches the young man is tortured by the idea
of leaving her behind, and tries to take her with him by murdering
her, but the attempt brings on an attack of haemorrhage, which
causes his death. The girl has been faithful to the end, but the
death of her love has kept pace with the dying of her lover. There
is a haunting melancholy in the tale: how sweet life is, with love;
how terrible is death when love must be left; and how weary is
life when love dies. One of the short tales, Leutnant Gustl (1901),
is the long monologue of an officer who is about to commit
suicide because he has been insulted by a vulgar civilian who is
not sathfaktionsfahig\ it is very much like the c waves-of-conscious-
ness tales' of these later days. The genre is not quite new: there is
the idea of it in Richard von Meerheimb's (1825-96") 'Psycho-
drametf (Psychodramenwel^ 1887). FrduleinElse (1925) is another such
monologue; it is spoken by a Viennese girl of nineteen, in a holiday
resort where she is staying. News comes from home that her father
is on the verge of fraudulent bankruptcy. There is a chance of
saving him - if she agrees to the conditions of a financial magnate
at the hotel to whom she appeals for help: he must see her naked
in the star-lit forest. elf one man sees me/ she says, "others shall
see me/ Naked under her mantle she comes down into the hall,
shows herself, faints, is taken to her room, takes veronal, dies.
The resemblance to Maeterlinck's Monna Vanna cannot be missed.
The Novelle Casanovas Heimfahrt (1918) is a picture of the legend-
ary lover in the decay of old age, still lustful but on the verge of
impotence. As in Die Schwestern Casanova finds his way into a
lady's room and pretends to be her lover; but when she looks at
him in the morning he shows that night's efforts furrowed deep
into his yellow face; and what he reads in her eyes is not, as it
used to be, 'rascal!', but 'old man!' If to women he is an old man,
to himself he is dead. The short novel Frau Berta Garlan (1901)
has the shuttle-like to-and-fro of fevered thinking of the two
monologues. It is the story of a handsome woman with the artistic
temperament who, after three years of widowhood, in the vigour
of her thirties, dreams herself into an infatuation for a musician,
now famous, with whom she had innocently flirted when they