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256                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

in short rhymed stanzas of his Gedichte und Spruche have been
ranked with the Germanic gnomic poetry of the Middle Ages;
the core of his wisdom here is what constitutes the ethics of his
neo-classic plays ^Tremgegen sich selbsf]: 'Wer ist weise, wer ist gut?
Wer nach seinem Wesen tut\ His epic in three volumes, Das Kaiser-
bitch (1923-28), chronicles the achievements of the Prankish, Saxon,
and Swabian emperors in plain verse, and in Der Heiland (1931)
he has, like the Old Saxon scop of the ninth century, Germanized
the Gospel story.

As a poet Paul Ernst began with Poly meter (1897), a collection
of verse in the style of Arno HoLz's Phantasus?- His first dramas,
the two curtain-raisers 'Lumpenbagasch and Im Chambre separee (both
1898) were in the strictest TehgrammstiL A visit to Italy in 1900
converted him to the belief that the ideal forms of art were to be
found in ancient Greek tragedy and the medieval Italian novella.
In 1902 appeared his Altitatienische Novellen (translations) and two
collections of short stories: Die Prm^essm des Ostens, which closely
imitate the technique of the old Italian novella: the narration is
restricted to the bare bones of the action, which is presented as
inevitable and due to fate and character, and is kept free from
psychological and analytical interpretation. Paul Ernst's short
stories rank prominently in the renaissance of the genre which
now follows. Other collections of his Novellen are: Die Hoch^eit
(1913); Der Tod des Cosimo (i<)i 3); Die Taufe (1916); Der Nobelpreis
(1919). In Qkkultische Novellen (1921) there is something of the
speculative mysticism in which Wilhelm von Scholz was now an
adept. The Geschichten von deutscher Art (1928) cover a variety of
social strata, and chronologically take in the period before, during
and after the War, The Komodianten- und Spit^bubengeschichten (1920)
revive the rogue tale such as we find it in the anecdote collections of
the sixteenth century, and have that disquieting if ironical delight
in wicked pranks which makes Till Eulenspiegel such a standard
example of German humour; the Roman scene with the itinerant
actors of the commedia delFarte does not make the mood less

In height of achievement Paul Ernst, though a pioneer and
theoretician of the regeneration of the short story, is left behind
by his contemporaries, not because he is too faithful to his theory

1 Hok had published poems of his 'Phantasm type in 1893 in Bierbaum's