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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  NOVEL  OF   IMPRESSIONISM                   291

minds of children and growing youth, and of the relations of
parents to these processes. If his children have attraction, it is that
of constructed models. In Geschmster (1903) two girls represent
the dualism - familiar in medieval literature as Weltflucht and Welt-
freude - of the brooding religious bent and the need of pleasure
and company, with Hagen, the tutor of the girls* brother, as the man
between the two. In Wandlungen (1905), the sequel to Gesctwister,
the boy of the previous tale and his relations to his father (Sohn-
Vater-Kampf) move into the centre of interest, with the father's
second wife (the woman with a past) estranging the two by her
shallow character. In Mao (1907) the Kinderpsychologie is still more
searching. A family who were poor but are now rich live in an
old patrician house. The only son, Thomas, goes to the elementary
school, and brings home the smell of the class, which is painful to
him. He is exquisitely sensitive, and for that reason is bound to be
tortured in the rough-and-tumble of school life. The book thus
falls into line with the studies of school life in Emil Strauss's
Freund Hem and Hesse's Unterm Rad. As a satirist of Philistinism
Friedrich Huch pairs with Carl Sternheim; he has less glitter, but
more depth. And he is more depressing; for while Sternheim
makes the respectability look like a huge joke Friedrich Huch,
quietly but pitilessly, pictures it as a sea of idiocy in which we are
all submerged. A few dreamers, dangerously gifted, struggle to
rise out of it; but either, like Peter Michel, they are sucked back
or, like Pitt, the hero of Pitt undFox (1908), they are isolated at
the rim of decency. The title of the story was no doubt suggested
by a remark of Goethe that he could not help picturing Pitt as a
pug-nosed broomstick and Fox as a fat pig. The names stick from
boyhood to two brothers who are elaborately contrasted, more or
less as Wolfram von Eschenbach contrasts Par2ival, as a dreamer
swayed by moods, problematic and baffled, with Gawan, the shal-
low and insinuating masterful man who takes the women the
other might have had if he had not been decent. For Pitt, who
studies philosophy, the problem life presents is the conflict of will,
feeling, and action; and, as the novel shows, the conflict is due to
distance from 'primitivity*, in which willing, feeling, and acting
synchronize. Other problems of the day fill out the action: the
son-father conflict, the right of the unmarried mother to refuse to
marry her seducer. The most striking thing in the book is the
delicate way in which the physical feelings of EUEriede - who falls