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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

316                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

because Potiphar (a super-refined sybarite and gourmand) has been
and is a second father to Joseph: as Joseph resists the woman he
sees before him not only the face of his own father but that of his
second father as well; it is indeed a composite face, with sterner
features - those of God. Parental and divine inhibition therefore
give the spirit strength to resist the flesh. And yet there is no
defence of asceticism or even of chastity in the story: the chastity
of priests and vestals is ruthlessly laid bare in all its futility; but
Joseph is reserved - that is, sexual functions are for a purpose
foreordained by God. The meaning of Mann's Joseph thus is that
he simplifies the chaotic and fleshly symbols of the divine to what
he himself is - spirit purified (more literally, superior and more
cultured intellect). To spirit (Geist} the eternal peril is the flesh,
the undying sphinx which, crouching, hides its sex, but which,
male or female, is all sex and cruel clutching claws.

The action of ILofte in Weimar (1939) returns ostensibly to
modernity - the date is 1816 -, but the foundation matter is still
myth, the myth or legend of The Sorrows of Werther. The main
theme, however, is that of the loss of a writer's productivity as
the pitiless years take their toll. Lotte visits Goethe in Weimar and
finds him, not so much aged as lost to life, as life is in female fancy.
Goethe as we see him, stiffened and sterile, in ILotte in Weimar,
exemplifies one of the main tenets stated in Mann's next novel,
Doktor Faustus (1947): 'Choose good, you vegetate; choose evil,
you attain knowledge and you create/ The narrator is Serenus
Zeitblom, Ph.D., a grammar school teacher. In the two years from
1945 to 1945 he writes down the story of an old schoolfellow and
lifelong friend, Adrian Leverkuhn, who had died in 1940. They
had studied together at Halle; Zeitblom philology, Leverkuhn
theology. Very clear in the story is the contrast of Btirger-Zdtblom,
and X5^//^r-Leverkuhn. Or, otherwise contrasted, they typify
Moralismus-Asthetentum. Leverkuhn's study of theology at Halle
is the first approach to the atmosphere of the Faust legend; how-
ever, he changes over to music. Zeitblom writes during the course
of World War II; he is an anti-Nazi, but finds it prudent to keep
quiet. The main idea of the book is that Dr Faustus is Germany,
the collapse of which is symbolized in the last musical works of
Leverkuhn, ApocaKpsis cumfiguris and Wehklag Dr. Fausti. Die nr-
ftwscbten Kopfs (1940) is an Indian legend ironically treated: an
Indian woman attempts to produce a perfect husband by con-