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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

264                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

adaptation of a comedy of errors by Tirso de Molina1: an old
greybeard brings to an Oriental city a magic rhyme; he that speaks
it falls into a trance and enters any corpse he wishes to. Thus a
beggar at the city gates roams about the stage in the king's body,
and the king in this beggar's body commits adultery with his own
wife. The humour is very sad. In Gefdhrliche Uebe (1913), an adap-
tation of Les liaisons dangereuses, the unfolding of character is too
nuanced for effective stage drama, but the psychological finesse
makes it attractive reading. A boy just come from country to
court is tragically contrasted with a hardened rake with his snake-
like fascination, the 'hero' of endless and perilous amours; and
there is all the glamour stung with pain of the Don Juan legend,
of the Casanova legend, in the 'hero's* logic - the true heroism of
great deeds, he tells the worshipping boy, is swallowed instantly
by death, and all one has of life is what can be snatched of it as it
flies past. Gefahrliche Uebe is the most satisfying of Scholz's plays,
probably because it is not written to the neo-classic pattern; it is
not of course an impressionistic play - the intrigue is too cal-
culated for that, and there is still that neo-classical elimination of
imaged lyric beauty which gives hardness to the characters -, but
there is an approach to impressionism in the shadowing of the
glamour of scene and costumes by the gathering cloud of the
Revolution, which ends the last act as the advent of a new period
(this again a continuation of HebbePs technique of prophetic sym-
bolism). Judged by strict dramatical canons the play must fail; for
instance, one of the heroines dies of a night of love, which is hardly
likely. That the action is complex - there are five protagonists -
removes the play from the uncompromising concentration of the
neo-classic type to almost epic variety. Die Feinde (1917) is clearly
inspired by events of the War: isolated attacks by villagers on
German garrisons are transferred to somewhere in Germany just
before Napoleon's retreat from Russia begins; and (as in HebbePs
Judith} a heroine who visits the enemy commander at night is over-
come by her physical attraction to a strong man, enhanced by her
revulsion from the feeble creature she was to marry. Das Her%-
wunder (1918) is a notable example of the miracle play, which now,
in the progression from HofmannsthaPs Jedermann to Max Mell,
and in the turn to religious mysticism due to post-War pessimism,

1 Ufar alien Zauber Uebe (1931)> Der BJcbter von Zalamea (1937), and Das
Lebtn em Traum are adaptations from Calderon.