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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE   WOMEN  WRITERS                           335

because he is suffering, and generally there is much of "Gabriele
Reuter's consideration for suffering males in this story. (On the
other hand Vicki Baum may be hard on her own sex: 'she was
female"almost to the pitch of obscenity', she writes of one of her
characters.) A friend of the heroine sends her boy away after a
night of excitement - to a looser woman; and syphilis is the result.
Is the continence that propriety requires of engaged couples a
social prejudice, a hygienic evil, or a stern necessity? Is not the
vital consideration for a university girl student the fact that she
cannot be pregnant and study for her examination or write a
thesis ? Helene, as a student of chemistry, can follow the chemico-
biological process of pregnancy in her own body, and there is the
problem of the expediency or otherwise of abortion. This is still
forbidden by German law; but, as the novel stresses, contempt
for the unmarried mother is now forbidden - she has helped the
Fatherland, and is entitled to be addressed as Trau*. (The right to
provide cannon-fodder for a grateful country was not exactly what
Vicki Baum's predecessors had fought for.) Having borne her
baby, Helene isolates a hormone which stimulates the sexual func-
tions and has a rejuvenating effect; this is successfully marketed
under the name of Vitalin', and thus the novel has a happy ending
- of a new sort.

ELSE LASKER-SCHULER (1876-1945) was claimed as one of them-
selves by the expressionists; she was at all events in the very centre *
of their Berlin circle, and as the wife of Herwarth Walden, the
editor of Der Sturm, she chaperoned the movement so to speak.
But in her origins she is a naturalist: her drama Die Wupper (1908)
is, though fantastically coloured, a sordid depiction of low life in
the Ruhr district. The drama, however, was tentative: she is her
own strange self in her poems. She has no ethics of any sort, and
for that reason cannot be an expressionist proper; but her verse
and prose have an expressionist appearance in the sense that they
do seem to be expressing something that only those who are poetic-
ally gifted can make head or tail of. What does emerge is that she
is an Oriental princess - Prinzessin Tino von Bagdad - who has
the tales of Scheherezade to tell; and we should see her sunk in
harem silks and cushions, or in a moonlight halt among the sheiks
of the desert. Or: she is on pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem, and
is in some strange way herself the angeFbefore tfee gates of Para-
dise, with his star glittering on her brow and his broken'pinion