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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

294                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

barons who live a full life, but the exceptional, thwarted dreamers
of the stock, those whom their finer feelings force to stand by in
the gnawing bitterness or helpless sadness of resignation, while
their inferior but robust brethren seize life where it offers. *Wiry
an denen das lueben wrubergehf, might be the motto of his works;
and what happens in tale after tale is no happening at all, but just
the melancholy inspection of what might have happened - 'Ereignis
in der Ereignislosigkeif. In his novel Dumala (1907) the pastor of a
parish is in love with the wife of the lame lord of the manor, but
he knows she has a lover, and comes near to murdering him; all
that he has of life is to gaze at a lighted window on which his
lady's shadow is cast. In Seine Lebenserfahrmg, one of the stories of
Bwte Her^en (1908), a man who knows he is preferred puts off his
courage to sin till the woman goes off for sheer boredom with an
insignificant rival. In actual life Eduard von Keyserling was any-
thing but a bold bad baron. The third son of the lord of the manor
at Paddern in Courland (then in Russia), he was educated at Dor-
pat University; and, apart from a period when he managed the
ancestral estate for his brother, he was exiled from the life which
he sees in a mystic beauty of landscape through the haze of a
dream. When, after the conclusion of his studies, he resided in
Vienna, he appears to have been attracted to Socialism, and to have
been disillusioned by contact with the movement; his experiences
at this time are assumed to form the basis of his novel Die dritte
Stiege. In Vienna began the disease which was to lay him low; from
1897 onwards he suffered (like Heine) from a spinal disease due to
syphilis, and became blind in 1907. Of decisive importance was a
stay in Italy: here - an almost traditional experience of German
writers1 - his mind opened out to the magic of his northern home-
land; and, like him, his dreams came home - if only, as in Schmh
Tage, to die. In 1899 ^e settled in Munich. After 1914 he wrote
no more.

Keyserling's naturalistic novels Rosa Her% (1883) and Die dritte
Stiege (1890) have as little importance as his dramas (Ein Fruhlings-
offer, 1899; Der dumme Hans, 1901; Peter Hawel, 1903); the dra-
matic sketch Bemgnens Erlebnis (1905) has the vain snatching at life
and happiness of the Novellen. As a delineator of North German

1 Typical is Heinrich Mann's confession: 'Ich gmg, sobald ich konnte, Mm
nach Italien. Ja, erne Zeitlangglaubte ich ^u Hause syt sem. Aber ich war es auch dort
mcht; mdseit icb dies deutlich spurfe, begann ich ttwas %u konmn.*