Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats


peasant custom that the father is lord of the house till the eldest
son marries; to him the father must then relinquish his rights. In
Erde the son cannot marry till the father dies; at the beginning
of the play hope dawns that he may soon be gathered unto his
fathers, for he is kicked by a horse, orders his grave, has his coffin
made; and while he is bed-ridden the son makes a cradle and (the
housekeeper anticipating the joys of possession) the baby for it;
but the old peasant is indestructible: he rises from bed and hacks
the coffin to pieces. He has touched the earth he loves and is re-
newed. In Glazibe and He!mat (1910) there is warm feeling; the
period is that of the Counter-Reformation; the order has come
that Protestants are to be driven out of the country, and Tyrolese
peasants die clinging to Luther's Bible. The idea which animates
the play is that of reconciliation between the two creeds - that
tolerance the sweet reasonableness of which Anzengruber had
shown in Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld and which Schonherr found -
whether or no there was anything in the charge of plagiarism -
in Enrica von Handel-Mazzetti's Styrian novel Jesse und Maria. In
Der Weibsteufel (1914) there is insight into the inner nature of
woman as penetrating as that of Schnitzler, but with the Strind-
bergian valuation of female domination by means of sex. There
are only three characters, labelled in the way the expressionists
were to adopt, Der Mann - sein Weib - Einjtmger Gren^jdger. The
husband is a physical wreck, unable to work, but with the cunning
to enrich himself by acting as receiver to smugglers. His young
wife, vigorous but with her senses dormant, mothers her invalid,
until he sets her to beguile the young customs officer who is on
the point of discovering where the contraband goes to. But she
plays with fire; and the flames burn high, both in her and the
Grenzwachter. She sees her chance of getting rid of both men;
she goads the customs man into murdering her husband, and over
the dead body, she cries exultingly: *Ihr Mannstetffel^ each ist man
noch fiber * She knows she will inherit her husband's ill-gotten
wealth; and with that she can have any man she wants. A woman-
devil can beat a man devil. Schonherr's medical experience is turned
to account in Es (1923), of which the only characters are *der Ar^f
and 'die Frau\ and in Der Armendoktor (1925) and Chirurgensphl
which show up the farce life is.

HofmannsthaPs revival of the medieval mystery play proved
the making of another Austrian poet, MAX MELL (1882- ). Born