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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

262                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

Hauptmann's Die versunkene Glocke had appeared; in SchoLz's met-
rically similar play, four years after, we have again the master-
craftsman - this time a demonic architect building a cathedral -
obsessed by his work and at the same time torn between his hum-
drum duty to a fanatically religious wife and his sensual love for
a seductive harlot - like Tannhauser between God and Venus,
There is some prospect, as in Ibsen's Master "builder, of dizziness
on the top of the tower when the work is completed; but the
plague, the 'unbidden guest', comes to the city. There is a Maeter-
linckian mood in the symbol of Death suddenly shadowing the
revels of the vulgar and the star-ypointing dreams of the creative
artist; life flares ere its extinction, and the austere artist yields
to the seduction of his senses. Again the beauty of the concep-
tion is marred by melodramatic mystifications and a loose grip
of character-drawing. Der Jude von Konstan^ (1905) is yet another
medieval picture, with the persecution of the Jews as the enfold-
ing theme. The actual problem is that of the renegade Jew, as in
Gutzkow's Uriel Acosta. Nasson, a Jew doctor in Constance, has
embraced Christianity so that he can own his own house and have
a hospital - that is, in order to do good; he is no more Christian
than Jew, but quite emancipated from dogma. As a study of the
Jewish question the play has topical interest today: 'blood pol-
lution' is one of the motifs, the absurdities (to a freethinker) of
both Christian and Jewish ritual quicken the plot, and the hope-
lessness of the Jews being assimilated by any nation is poignantly
brought out - there can be no homeland, we are told, where death
itself means sinking into alien soil. While Der ]ude von Konstan^
does not observe the unity of place Meroe(ic>o6) observes neither
the unity of place nor that of time, though it claims to be strictly
of the neo-classical type, and is moreover intended to serve as the
proof by practice of the neo-classic theories enunciated by SchoLz
in his Gedanken ^um Drama. The time of the action is remote ('em
grosses Drama spielt mit Vorteil in mthgener oder phantastischer Zeif\
and there is tense concentration on the main conflict between two
wills, each of which is dramatically equal to the other: monarchy
and priesthood each claim absolute power. Paul Ernst's Canossa
might be urged in relative disproof of the claim that a mythical
period is best suited to drama: there is the same conflict as in
Merci, but Ernst's drama of Kaiser and Pope is rendered more
vivid by the feeling that the conflict on the stage is the symbol of