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THE  WOMEN  WRITERS                           339

Germany so fascinating a study: the violently strained rhetoric,
the delight in glaring antitheses, the fiercely ethical conduct of
life, the stern religious gloom which is the background against
which flit and flash the dashing devilment and the picturesque
uniforms of all the regiments of many-peopled Austria. Other
novels in which she deserts the province and period she has made
her own are mediocre (Der deutsche Held, 1920), but there is at
least interest to the student of literature in her Johann Christian
Gunther (1927), in which she lays bare the contrition after much
human sinning of that seventeenth-century lyric poet whose life,
in Goethe's words, ran to waste because he had let go the reins.
With Enrica von Handel-Mazzetti may be mentioned her disciple
PAULA GROGGER (1892- ), also a Styrian; her best tales are Das
Grimmlngtor (1927) and Der 'L.obenstock (1935).

The Catholic writer most in vogue today is FREIIN GERTRUD
VON LE FORT (1876- ). She was nearly fifty when she began to
write the books that made her famous1 - the reason being, she says,
that 'all that is to ripen needs a long resting time and all that drives
down deep must zealously guard the aloofness that is needed/
She has told her story in A.uf%eichnungen und'Erinnerungen (1951).
The descendant of Huguenot immigrants, the great event in her
life was her conversion to Catholicism in 1926. The main forma-
tive influence on her was her study of history and theology at
Heidelberg as the pupil of the philosopher Ernst Troeltsch, whose
posthumous works she edited. She made her reputation with the
theological novel Das Schweisstuch der Veronika (1928); its sequel
Der Kran^ der Engel did not appear till 1946, but the two form one
whole. In Das Schmisstuch der Veronika with its significant sub-
title Der romische Brunnen we have the story of a sixteen year old
girl in pre-1914 Rome who is so captivated by the history of the
Imperium Sanctum, the grandeur of the Holy Roman Empire
leagued with and leaning on the Church of Rome, that she turns
Catholic, breaking away from the creed of her Protestant grand-
mother. In Der Kran% der Engel we find her as a student at Heidel-
berg; here there is a love match with a friend of her youth who,
after his experiences in World War I, has come to hate Christianity
(much as Ernst Wiechert did in his first phase). She seeks to re-
deem him by consenting to a civil marriage, but she falls danger-

1 Her earlier works, verse and prose, are collected in Die ersten Scbritte