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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NEO-CLASSICISM                                275

ration, and therefore it is not surprising that he should have made
a speciality of what is a medieval genre, though he is no doubt
justified in his claim that he schooled himself on Johann Peter
HebePs SchaP%kastlein\ his A.mkdotenl are miniature stories much
as are to be found in sixteenth-century collections of facetiae such
as Kirchhoff?s Wendunmut,> to which Paul Ernst acknowledged his
debt. The modern element Schafer adds to the genre is that of
patriotic selection: his aim is to show the heroic qualities of the
German race in episodes from the lives of its famous men or from
general types of German. This racial bias, of course, explains the
tendency to over-estimate him in the Nazi period; an impartial
judgment would deny him more than the rank of a popular story-
teller but acknowledge the academic interest of his re-creation of
the Anekdote. For this his mode of composition, as stated by him-
self, bears analogy to that of the neo-classic dramatists: he takes
a known story, his 'Stoff* (and therefore fertility of imagination is
not to be expected), and restores the bare lines by stripping off all
accretions till nothing remains but the decisive action ('die Ettt-
scheidung}) which corresponds to the catastrophe in a tragedy; and
this he heads and tails with the shortest possible approach to it
and a hint of what is to follow, morally spiced either by way of
introduction or dismissal of the theme. What is needed in such
a genre is the power of swift characterization, so that not the
event so much as the victory over the event by the character
should remain as pattern and example in the reader's mind. The
schoolmaster's determined inculcation of virtue is yet more glaring
in Drei^ehn Bucher der deutscben Seek (1922), which (written in a
period of national despondency) proclaimed a sturdy faith in racial
excellence and proved this to exist in the great men and the great
events that have shaped the destiny of the Germans from Nordic
myth to the mistakes of the present. Schafer was a pioneer too in
the field of the vie romancee\ but here his purpose is still educa-
tional In Ubenstag ernes Menschenfreundes (1915) he quietly tells the
story of Pestalozzi, while in Karl Stauffers Utensgang (1911; a fic-
titious autobiography of the Swiss painter Stauflfer-Bern), WimM-

1 Dexfscbes Anekdotenbucb, edited by Paul Alverdes and Hermann Rinn
(1938), is an anthology of short stories in the sense indicated. The first volume
of Schafer's Anekdoten appeared in 190$; this and the following volumes were
collected in Anekdoten (1926); a further volume is Wtndekrds neuer Anekdoten
(1937). School edition, ed. Karl W, Maurer: Die Awkdetenvm WiMmSMfer
(London, 1938).