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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  WOMEN  WRITERS                          33!

Wonnebald Puck (in Seifenblaseri): an utter fool, a scoundrel and an
oozy voluptuary, rises by virtue of his very vices and idiocy to be
abbot and bishop, and on his death is canonized because his story
is believed that the image of the Virgin in his church has given
him Her own jewelled crown - which in sober fact he had stolen
to pay for his loose living.

Ricarda Huch breaks new ground as much by her regeneration
of the historical novel or vie romance's as by her elaboration of a
lyrical prose style: she frees it from restrictions of locality and
raises it to epic grandeur and timeless significance in Die Geschichten
von Garibaldi (Die Verteidigung TLoms, 1906; Der Kampf urn Row,
1907), Menschen und Schicksale aus dew Rjsorgimento (1908), and Das
Leben des Grafen Federigo Confalonieri (1910). Typical of the psycho-
logical method of her historical tales is the Confalonieri volume:
the ripening of a mind in twelve years of imprisonment and the
analysis of patriotic idealism provides the interest. Ricarda Huch
makes Garibaldi a symbol of genius, isolated (in Thomas Mann's
sense) by his own 'difference from the others* (Anderssein)^ prone
to excess, and inevitably the tool (as an engineer controls ele-
mental forces) of inferior but calculating minds (Cavour). In her
prose epic of the Thirty Years War, Dergrosse Krieg in Deutschland
(1912-14), we have her new conception of historical fiction brought
to fruition: in her vision of these vast events - since her aim is to
portray not individuals but a whole period with its inner impulses,
its mass psychology, its cumulative devastation - she does not
bring the great leaders out in stark relief, but lets them take their
place (even Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein) as actors con-
trolled by the drama rather than controlling it, as scene billows
after scene in the ocean of happenings with no ordered beginning
and no clear-cut ending.

Her lyric verse (Gedichte, 1894; Neue Gedichte, 1907), modelled
as it may be on that of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, is marked by a
somewhat hectic speculative cast rather than by plastic presenta-
tion of image and substance. The philosophical staple is that of
the prose work: the most insistent idea is that personality should
struggle with and wrest from existence the utmost it can bestow -
Alhsodernichts? for instance, concentrates the doctrine (essentially
that of Vita Somnium Breve as of other works) in a sonnet. Certain

1 The title of the poem was familiar as the programme of Ibsen and of
Ibsen's hero Brand ('Intef etler alt!'}.