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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

258                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

detects a Goya: this leads the old count to tell the love story of
the ancestor whose bold figure stands out from the canvas with
wife and ten children. The 'strange happening' which the Falken-
theorie requires is the marriage of this ancestor to a lady whose
husband he had killed. Really we have here the medieval problem
and the logical solution of it with which we are familiar from
Hartmann von Aue's Iwein and Corneille's Le Cid\ that Imin may
be the direct source of Paul Ernst's story is perhaps indicated by
the fact that the lady's serving-maid pleads for the hidalgo, who,
like Iwein, is a prisoner in the lady's castle. Other familiar medieval
details are: the gentleman falls in love with the lady's picture
(troubadour and Minnesinger motif); the detailed description of
the lady's figure, with the omissions roguishly hinted at; the lady,
dainty as she is, uses coarse sexual words. The medieval colouring
is, however, nothing more than a graceful pretence: the handling
of the theme is intellectual, and what impresses the reader - apart
from the exciting story - is the count's regret for the effacement of
the landed gentry or military caste by the cultured middle classes;
Paul Ernst skilfully renders the melancholy of the theme familiar
from so many Spanish works, and most of all as the very inspira-
tion of Don Quixote, that poignant contrast of classes which the
Socialist leader Friedrich Engels classified as the first literary ex-
pression of the idea of Socialism. This tale of Paul Ernst's, it will
be clear, is not an objective narration of an event of the Heyse -
Spielhagen type, for the author reads into it a personally coloured
survey of social developments;  and the characters,  far from
being cfertig\ undergo die same developments as do those of
LeCid.

In the novel Paul Ernst has academic interest of subject, but not
greatness. Derschmale Weg^um Gluck (1903) is historically one of
the pioneer Er^iehungsromane; it inculcates, with a too didactic in-
sistence, a semi-religious seeking for happiness with the idea that
this will be found in some narrow, insignificant retreat from the
noise and bustle of the world. Die selige Insel (1908) is a notable
contribution to the discussion of the Ehe ^u Drift. In Soot aufHoff-
nmg (1914) a selfless millionaire tries to save a people driven to
distraction by the development of industry; but the Socialist world
he builds up is destroyed in blind passion by the workers he would
save. (There is the same theme and the same result in Georg
Kaiser's Gas.} Grun aus Trummrn (1923) records the collapse of