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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

330                   MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

might not be expected; but it is there - a naughty humour which
comes natural to Ricarda Huch as a disciple of Gottfried Keller,
as in the story of how the Civic Pri2e for Virtue is awarded to a
girl who is virtuous because her lover is a stoker mostly at sea but
who entertains him in bed while her mother and most of the street
are on a holy pilgrimage. Ricarda Huch's other novels, except
those with themes from history, have hardly more than academic
interest. The problem of royalty outworn in a hustling world of
business is dreamily approached in Von den Konigen und der Krone
(1904): the son of a Slav king, while doctor at a hospital for
children, marries the daughter of a German oil magnate. Here, if
anywhere, the realism of Thomas Mann's Konigliche Hoheit was
needed; but Ricarda Huch, refining her Romantic fancifulness,
lifts earth to the clouds, which will not bear it. Der Fall Deruga
(1918), an experiment in the criminal novel, is painful in the ir-
reality of its realism: a doctor has given his dying wife, at her own
request, a sleeping draught, and the court proceedings which the
story reports try to bring home the crime to the culprit. Close
scrutiny may find a loving care in the characterization of this doc-
tor with an Italian name, but one cannot credit that anywhere a
murder could be investigated in so strange a way.

Both the close-packed style of Gottfried Keller and his ironical
treatment of religion are closely imitated by Ricarda Huch in a
series of short stories1 whose content varies from tragic or pathetic
to quaint or grotesque. Keller had made his game of religion in
the Gottmacher's tales in Der Grune Heinmh, and in Sieben'L.egenden
(1872) he had transmuted the old Catholic legends of chastity into
proof that nothing is closer to the heart of God than the joys of
wedlock2 - His means to His purpose. In Der arme Heinrich, one
of the tales of Fra Celeste und andere Er^ahlungen, Ricarda Huch
reads the consummation of sexual desire into this physically most
absurd of medieval legends. The anti-religious satire, though with-
out coarseness, misses its mark by overstraining probability in Der
Hahn von Quakenbruck (1910): Catholics and Calvinists dispute as
to the punishment that should be meted out to the Mayor's cock
for laying eggs with scarlet yokes; and in Lebenslauf des heiligen

1 Der Mondreigen von Schlaraffis (1896), Teufeleien (1897), Hademg im Kreu%-
gang (1897), Fra Celeste und andere Er^ahlungen (1899), Seifenblasen (1905). Col-
lected in two volumes as Er^ablungen (1919). Followed by Der nem Heilige
(1920), Der wiederkehrende Christus (1926), Die Hugenattm (1930).

2 Rudolf G. Binding does the same in his ILegenden (p. 277).