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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

XIII
THE WOMEN WRITERS

It has been traditional in German literature from the days of
Grafin Ida Hahn-Hahn's (1805-80) notorious novels and the
more calmly reasoned ones of Fanny Lewald (1811-89) that
women writers should face up to the menfolk and claim equality
- particularly of passion. After 1880 there are so many of these
Amazons that only the leaders can be dealt with here. Not ail
women writers, of course, are rebels; and perhaps as good an
arrangement as any is to divide them into two armies of naughty
girls and good girls, with Else Lasker-Schuler - she is not fla-
grantly naughty but she would have been terribly shocked if she
had been classed as one of the good girls - as a dividing pinnacle.

The feministic campaign moves in two directions: one con-
tinues that movement for social, political, and physical equality
which can be traced back to Friedrich SchlegePs Lutinde and the
cry of Jung Deutschland for the "emancipation of the flesh*; the
other, essentially modern because based on medical hygiene, con-
centrates on the depiction of the peculiar nervous and physio-
logical system of woman, of her need of sexual activity for the
completion of her personality, and of her right to unrestricted
liberty in her sexual functions, even if perverse. In the first direc-
tion Helene Bohlau and Gabriele Reuter may be taken as the most
aggressive iconoclasts in the novel; in the second (which leads to
sensational and not infrequently disgusting revelation of inner
urges) Clara Viebig may be taken as the type.

In education equal rights for women were fought for as de-
fiantly as British women fought for the vote. The German univer-
sities were not opened to women till 1896* and even then some
professors refused to lecture to them; it is notorious that one
famous Berlin professor tried to frighten them away by spicing
his lectures on German literature with the most obscene terms in

L                                         3**