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THE   WOMEN  WRITERS                           327

(1907), Genesung (1912), Nachte von Fondi (1923) have traditionally
romantic moods.

It is by sheer distinction of style that Ricarda Huch takes rank
as the foremost woman writer of her day. She took her doctor's
degree at Zurich, taught in a Girls' High School there and was
secretary in the town library; it is thus natural that Swiss localities
and characters should find a place in her work generally; she re-
cords her recollections in Fruhling in der Schwei^ (193 8). In her case
the influence of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and Gottfried Keller is
flagrant, though Goethe's rhythms and syntax may also be dis-
tinguished in her nevertheless markedly individualized prose style,
which, moreover, extraordinarily supple, adapts itself to the sub-
ject and atmosphere of her successive works. Her first novel on a
large scale, Erinnerungen von LudoIfUrsku dem Jungeren (1893), lives
by reason of its lyrical style with its sad, sated rhythms; it set the
model for neo-romantic prose as Hofmannsthal's Der Toddes Titian
and Der Tor und der Tod set it for verse drama. The story itself is
irritatingly decadent; it runs its hectic course in that Dionysian
cult of beauty the peril of which was to be shown forth by Thomas
Mann's Tod in Venedig; there is the familiar ostentation of illicit
love as the right of personality ('Mem Gluck> das ich haben konnte,
ist mein ILecht. Ich darfes erkdmpfetf}. But subconscious forces and
the problematic nature of passion are (to the author and the period)
the justification; and, since love is fate, there is the same inevita-
bility of seizure as in the tale of Tristan and Isolde. No modern
writer handles the mystery of existence more elusively and more
poignantly than Ricarda Huch; in this first novel life is fate; in
the following novel Vita Somnium 'Breve a strong man's will de-
flects fate by the rejection of the love that fate wills - but to what
purpose ? As in Thomas Mann's "Ruddenbrooks the main tenor of
the Ursleu story is the decay of a Hanseatic patrician family, here
in Hamburg, but (since the style is in pointed hostility to the
naturalistic formula) without that weaving in of business affairs
which makes JSuddenbrooks as good a commercial novel as Freytag's
Soil und Haben. ~Buddenbrooks, by the way, comes eight years later;
and it has been suggested that Thomas Mann owes his theme of
cultural development inducing incapacity for the boredom of busi-
ness to this novel of Ricarda Huch's. The story is related by Ludolf
Ursleu, who has escaped from the world of such tragic happenings
to the peace of the Swiss monastery of Einsiedeln (the framework