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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

322                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

the language. In the novel this movement finds its voice in ILSE
FRAPAN'S (1855-1909) Wir Frauen haben kein Vaterland (1899): a
German girl, unable to obtain a scholarship in her native Ham-
burg, studies under stress at Zurich. HELENE BOHLAU (1859-1919)
had her own fight with German social custom. The daughter of a
publisher, she went to Turkey with a married man, and was mar-
ried to him by Turkish law; her novel Isebies (1911) is based on
this experience. She began with Novellen in which she turned her
upbringing to account - her youth was passed in Weimar, and the
old folks she knew could tell tales of the spacious days of Goethe
and Schiller, the stars of the social circles she describes in her jolly
l&itsmadelgesMcbten (1888) and Altweimarische Uebes- mid Ehege-
scbichten (1897). Her Rangierbahnhof (1896) is feministic in so far as
it is a study of Grillparzer's poignant Sappho theme under modern
conditions (the 'shunting station' symbolises the ceaseless din of
the modern city in which an artist may have to work) - the right
of the woman of genius to wedded happiness. The conclusion is
that the activity of a woman's intellect is subject to her physical
functions, and that married life makes demands which may prove
fatal to an artist.1 The result is not anti-feministic; for what the
feminists claim is equal liberty either as artist or in the functions of
love. DasRfcbt der Mutter (1896) is the first outspoken defence of
the unmarried mother. As a polemic it does, it is true, lose direct-
ness of impact by virtue of the Marchen-Vikt atmosphere in which
it is bathed: where it is uncompromising is in the comparison of
the care lavished on the married mother with the brutal treatment
of the girl who has given her body in a moment of natural passion:
here the contrast is heightened by the parallel pregnancy of two
sisters, one the wife of a smug professor in Jena. (The contrast is
not so poignant in Clara Viebig's Das tdglicbe Brof, where the preg-
nant mistress of the house draws her skirt around her lest the hem
of it should touch her pregnant maid.) Helene Bohlau gives all the
social dignity and ultimately real happiness to the girl who whistles
the world away and lives for her child. In Halbfier (1899) the
interest is mainly physiological: woman and wife exist, in man's
estimation, 'to fulfil animal functions* (fsind Nut^ichkeitstierf\

1 The theme of Rangierbahnhof is, so to speak, in the germ in Adalbert
Stifter's DerKondor (1840, his first novel). Rilke's painter friend Paula Becker
married the Worpswede painter Otto Modersohn and died in childbirth;
Bilke comments on this in his Tagebucb that God had punished her for
trying to be woman and artist at the same time.