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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE   NOVEL   OF   IMPRESSIONISM                  297

the effect of his conviction that his blind daughter is holy, and that
her holiness proves the spirituality behind reality of life. Now his
reformed character earns for his farm the name which is the title of
the book. The mystical idea is that which Gerhart Hauptmann
weaves into UndPippa tan<%t\ only the blind see; or, in other words
the outer reality seen by the eyes of the body is corruption, while
the inner reality visible to the soul is imperishable beauty. In the
life behind life, and there alone, is the peace that passeth under-
standing, and clarification is a process that must come out of one's
own deeps (^Selbstheiligung} - the idea of salvation by another was
invented by priests, but the muddiest pool grows clear of itself
when peace comes to it within itself. The girl's sight is restored,
however, by the miracle of her love for Peter Brindeisener, the
son of her father's inveterate enemy (the Romeo and Juliet motif
in a rural setting once more), and the religious faith of the Heiligen-
bauer almost founders when this daughter, because marriage with
her boy is impossible, drowns herself in a pond. He recovers his
faith only in the conviction that what had come to him by the
accident of the girl's blindness must be regained by his own soul
stirred to its deeps and consciously piercing to the light of divine
truth. Der Heillgenhof is in some sort a companion volume to
Hauptmann's Timanuel Quint - both novels continue the seven-
teenth-century mysticism of Jakob Bohme, and in both hallucin-
ations and fixed ideas constitute religion. Stehr, with his type of
the new Seelenmensch, is already the Gottsucher of the expressionists;
but in Der Heiligenhof && Wandlung of which the expressionists are
so fond occurs with the impossible suddenness of the conversion
in Masefield's Everlasting Mercy. At bottom Stehr's mysticism is
not so much Silesian as Maeterlinckian: it is not the New Jeru-
salem beyond the horizon, but a mirage.

Stehr's next novel, Peter Brindeisener (1924), is a sequel to Der
Heiligenhof. Peter Brindeisener, for the love of whom the blind girl
had gone to her death, relates his own experiences in the form of
a confession. The chief interest is in the exposition of Stehr's
somewhat bloodless attitude to sex. In other novels of Stehr social
problems are handled. Leonore Griebel(1900) has &femme imomprise
for heroine; the pathological problem of a finely strung woman's
decay by the side of a hopelessly prosaic husband and her in-
difference even to the child she bears him (she regards It as his and
as another shackle of dull domesticity) is patiently interpreted.
K*