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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

296                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

of vitality and sex Keyserling - he is utterly erotic - is of course
not true to the junker type, in whom notoriously martial qualities
come first; but the obsession is veiled by his association of it with
the landscape, visionary in his notation - sweeping plains, brood-
ing forests, park and pond by the manorial home, and with the
extremes of the climate folding the mood of the moment. In sheer
impressionism of landscape-colouring Keyserling is unsurpassed;
for instance: 'Still und sandig lag das Land da, uberall gelber Sand;
Wiesen, Felder und Garten lagen darauf, me eine verblasste Stickerei auf
einem blind gemrdenen Goldgrund*

HERMANN STEHR (1864-1940), a Silesian and a saddler's son who
began life as a village schoolmaster, is above all a visionary, a
mystic seeking religious certainty. In youth he had his own mental
crisis: brought up as a Catholic he studied Darwin and began to
doubt; for his change of faith he was persecuted by his official
superiors, and found relief from his suffering in writing stories.
His Darwinian positivism gave way to a Maeterlinckian fatalism
which, he says, is rooted in the Silesian character: 'Wir Menschen
halten doch immer nur die Fdden in den Handen, das Schicksal aber mbt,
was es mil...'. Reason is, therefore, of no account in the govern-
ment of life: the beginning of faith must be in a 'grundentstiegem
Unsicherheif. Not reason decides the course of a man's life; and
free will is like a doctor trying to cure a grievously sick man:
man's fate is in his blood. Stehr, therefore, sets himself the task of
piercing into those undiscovered regions of the soul where fate
grows; that is, to plunge deep into subconsciousness and the urge
of the senses; until he reaches his final conviction that 'das Denken
ohne 'Bewusstsein erlebt die Bewegung des Weltalls^ und das Gefuhl, dassich
nicht kennt, die Empfindungen Gottes\ Stehr's own mental conflict is
reflected in his first work, the short stories ofAttfLeben und Tod
(1898) and the novel Der begrabene Gott (1905). His conquest of
mystic faith is symbolized in Drei Ndchte (1909), in which Faber
appears, a dismissed elementary teacher, the mouthpiece of Stehr
himself. Faber reappears in Der Heiligenhof (1918), the scene of
which is not, as is customary with Stehr, in his native Silesia but
in Westphalia (as is also the case in the short story Meister Cajetan,
1931). Der HeiKgenhoJ'is one of the most alluring - though perhaps
the most illogical - of those novels which have Wandlung for their
theme. Here conversion is equivalent to a turning inward of
thought in the person of the hero, a Berserker type of farmer, as