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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NHO-CLASSICISM                                277

all their lack of spontaneity they have a certain effectiveness; there
is for instance a leaden tone and the helpless horror of a nightmare
in Let^te ILekruten: *Sie nahen schon den andern To ten, \ den stummen
blassern grossern Tofe^; they come in wave on wave, with bent gaze,
drawn by the dead who have gone, wave on wave, before. It is as
a short story writer that Binding is likely to survive. His 'legends'
and Novellen have the restraint and the objectiveness of the neo-
classic pattern. The peculiarities of punctuation show some affinity
with Stefan George, but the narrative style, though over-refined
and perhaps even anaemic, is clear and smoothly insinuating; the
too level rhythm glides along like a silk ribbon which fondles but
does not grip. His I^egenden der Zeit (i 909) contrast life and religion,
to the advantage of Diesseitigkeit\ he thus shows himself the pupil
of Gottfried Keller, and indeed these legends directly continue
Keller's anti-religious Sieben'Legenden. The literary purpose of both
Keller and Binding is to show that the Christian conception of
chastity is inhuman, and that life is only in love and marriage.
These ironic stories are thus legends reversed, or (paradoxically)
pagan legends, with the Christian paraphernalia humorously and
almost lovingly tinged with comic effect (as they are, though un-
consciously, in certain medieval Marienlieder). Binding achieves
delightful effects by aping Baroque language in his description of
the administrative routine of Heaven: he devises sentences like
blown-out bags, and sumptuously paraphrases the vacuous ver-
bosity of supreme authority. Keuschheitslegende plays gracefully with
the medieval idea1 that a maid's chastity is a shirt stronger than
steel mail; and with the modern idea that it burns more fiercely
than the flames of Hell. Die Geige (1911) is the first collection of
Novellen proper. Of these Die Waffenbruderis a supple combination
of the Miles Standish-John Alden motif with that of the taming
of the shrew and of the taming in the darkness of Brunhilde by
Siegfried on behalf of Gunther; the period is that of the Franco-
Prussian war. Angelucia, which shows the influence of Gerhart
Hauptmann's Hannele and Der arme Hemrich, belongs to the litera-
ture of the eroticism of puberty (Pubertdtserotik}. In Der Opfergang
we have again that contrast - an obsession with German writers -
of the passionate southern woman with the cool, good German
dame of the North. Really it is the same story as Keuschheitslegendei
in both tales saintliness is equated with sexual coldness; a cold
1 Gottfried's Tm/^//,U. 12815 F.;Hugo von TrJmberg'sDtfrKm/^r,!. 12766.