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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

XII

THE NOVEL
OF IMPRESSIONISM

There is no clear cut between the naturalistic novel and the
impressionistic novel. The transition is gradual; with some
writers there is no complete break, and with others what
really happens is that they continue the poetic realism of the pre-
naturalistic period, though with a more literal conception of reality.
Taking the later phase of novels en masse y what remains in them of
the naturalistic programme is that the milieu may still be presented
in detail; this, however, is no longer wearisome. The Milieuroman
merges into the Charakterroman> the difference being that while in
the former the milieu swamps the characters in the latter the milieu,
though still emphasized, serves as a background against which
the characters stand out in vivid relief, and that these characters,
instead of being the chemical product of the milieu, dominate it.
Typical of the change-over is the work of EMIL STRAUSS (1866-
1956), A Swabian from Pforzheim, he gravitated to Berlin, and
there moved in Gerhart Hauptmann's and DehmePs circles; that
is, in close touch with naturalism. Then he migrated to Brazil, but
returned to Germany, and turned farmer in the Schwarzwald near
Freiburg. He thus acquired a fund of experience which the doc-
trinaire naturalists - encysted in theories - cannot lay claim to.
And experience shapes his heroes as it shaped him; they plunge
into life, go wrong, make good, and so can face up to whatever
fate may bring. This heroic conception of life is the direct opposite
of the surrender to fate or rather to environment and mental state
of the naturalists. Moreover, this development of character is
altruistic: 'Dukanmtdie Weltnurvollendm* Strauss says, *indemdu
dich volhndest? In addition Strauss as a Swabian brings to his fiction
Swabian Gemut and a certain leisureliness of narration. He re-

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