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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  REGIONAL  NOVEL                           351

poetry of dikes and dunes, viMarsch and Geest i and this is more o*
less the hall-mark of regional literature in 'Schhsmg-Holstein meer-
wnsMungetf. The poetry of the dikes we get farther inland, too,
where the great rivers run low; e.g. in Max Halbe's Vistula plays
and in JOSEPH LAUFF'S (185 5-1933) novel Frau Aleit., in which the
dike-law is expounded and the mysteries unfolded of the Deichrolk
which lies on the table when the Deichgeschworenen are convened in
committee by the Deichgrafot Deichhauptmann. The grim and silent
mould of man is the typical hero of TIMM KROGER'S (i 844-1918) short
stories: Eine stille Welt (1891); Hem Wieck und andere Geschicbten
(1900); Urn den Weg^pll (1905); Aus alter Truhe (1908),

World-famous as the novelist of Schleswig-Holstein is GUSTAV
FRENSSEN (1863-1945). More specifically his region is Dithmar-
schen. Born at Bark, on the North Sea coast, as a carpenter's son,
he was for ten years a parson in his native province. His first
novels, Die Sandgrdfin (1896) - which already unrolls its pageant of
dikes and dunes - and Die drei Getreuen (1898) fell flat; his third
novel, Jorn Uhl (1901), provided the regionalists with the pattern
that justified their theories and its author with a princely income
- for it sold in hundreds of thousands. We follow the fate of Jorn
Uhl from early boyhood at die Uhl, the extensive farm in the
alluvial Marscb which has been in the possession of his family for
generations. Both his father and his three elder brothers are lazy
drunkards; and Jorn, whose bent is to study, has to work like a
slave in a vain effort to save the farm from being seized by creditors
with keen eyes on a rich prize. His mother, who had died young
giving birth to his sister Elsbe, had come from a farm on the
sandy Geest, where the land rises above the fat loam of the Marsch>
and Marschbauern and Geestbauern are contrasted as racially different:
the gipsy-like, red-haired stock who till the heathery Geest are of
Wendish origin, while the farmers of the Marsch are pure Nordics,
with rye-coloured hair and broad faces. Frenssen provides a racial
surprise by elevating one of the farm-hands who had come from
a Geest family to possession of the Uhls* ancestral farm; but his
theme is that the superior stock is prone to sloth begotten by
inherited wealth, while the Geest people are hard and canny. Jorn's
desperate struggle to save the farm, the corruption of his family,
and his own final salvation by his engineering bent - freed from
the nightmare of the farm he goes to the Technical College at
Hanover, and ends by helping to build the Kiel Canal  follow