(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

302                   MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

as the driven snow? The answer is in the affirmative; for Caspar
Hauser is an angel, and would remain an angel if the world would
let him. But his keepers torment him, and force him to lie. And
inevitably - for he has a face of girlish gentleness, brown curls
glossed like those of animals that live in the dark, the light brown
eyes of a frightened fawn, flesh that smells like honey - the wife of
his keeper attempts what Potiphar's wife attempted. What is wrong
with the world is that we have got Tirdgheit des Her^ens, sluggish
hearts or hearts that won't wake up and glow in the worship of
innocence and justice. This famous phrase was to be blazoned like a
diamond in the forefront of their programme by the expressionists,
But by Wassermann's showing no expressionist fervour would
save humanity so long as there are dynasties of princes: their
juridical system is an abomination, and innocence is a myth... In
Caspar Hauser Wassermann tracks evidence with the relentless in-
quisitiveness of a criminologist and pronounces upon it with the
apodictic certainty of a judge. In the novels which follow he
plunges ever deeper into the investigation of strange crimes, and
tends to interpret them as the effect of primitive urges, or, another
adept in the occultism of the period, he hints at psychic trans-
ferences. In the short stories of Die Schwestern (1906) he presents
a trio of women who are sisters in the morbidity and suffering of
their souls: Joan of Castile, the mother of the Emperor Charles V,
who takes about with her the painted corpse of her husband Philip
the Fair, in which a watch takes the place of a heart; a washer-
woman hanged for murder in Fleet Street in 1732; the daughter of
the President of the French Republic in 18 30 who opens her veins
in a cell Das Gdnsemdnnchen (1915) is one of the most notorious
handlings of a man's cohabitation with two wives. Wassermann's
story is probably modelled literally on the life-story of the poet
Burger, who cohabited with his wife's sister as well as his wife.
The hero of Wassermann's novel is a musician in Nuremberg, and
the symbolic title is taken from the figure of a man with a goose
under each arm on a fountain of one of the city market-places.
The brunt of the story is the tragedy of the artist, the myth of the
eternal enmity between the creative man-mind and the earthly
woman-mind: 'DasEwig-Weibliche vyebtms hinaV. The main feature
of Christian Wahnschaffe (1919) is that a rich man's son does what
Buddha did: he turns his back on wealth and rank, and lives with
outcasts. In the four volumes of the cycle Der Wendekms (the first