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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE   REGIONAL  NOVEL                          357

title is a homonym which serves to enforce the idea of these
German tribesmen: the law is with those who defend hearth and
home from those who nominally are in the service of the law;
when their farms are plundered, when their womenfolk are viol-
ated by successive waves of marauders from both sides and all
armies, all equally ferocious, they entrench themselves in the peat-
moss and destroy the straggling bands as they come for spoil.
They are, it is true, men turned to wolves; but they are wolves
defending the law, not outside it; indeed they pronounce and
execute judgment in the old tribal way in open court on the heath
('Ding auf offner Heide'}. The interest never flags - it is essentially
a boy's book like Hereward the Wake\ if there must be criticism it
might be that it consists of endless repetition of the opening scene
of Simpli'^issimus, and that, justified as the endless killing is, there
is a feeling that it is, if not a natural taste, at least an acquired one.

The best-known regional novelist of the Rhineland is JOSEF
PONTEN (1883-1940), who hails from the Eupen district. In his
novel Siebenqmllen (1908) he describes that part of the district
which was ceded to Belgium after the War. In his novels and tales
(particularly in the novel Der babylonische Turm, 1918) he contrasts
the man of feeling with the man who strives for financial and
social success; he has thus a cultural message, which comes out
best in his monumental work Volk aufdem Wege. The first volume,
Die Vdter ^ogen am (1934) begins with the destruction of Speyer
by the French in 1689; those rendered homeless go to Russia and
settle on the Volga. The second volume, Im Wolgaland (1933), one of
the great AMslandsromane of recent years, is the chronicle, reaching
to the time before the beginning of the War, of their colonist work
and of their fighting with marauding hordes from Asia, against
whom they serve as a bulwark. The third volume, J*J)eimsches
Zwischenspiel (1937), describes the visit to Germany of a teacher in
the Volga colony. Ponten is one of the best writers of more or less
expressionist or fanciful short stories: Die TSockreiter (1919); Der
Meister (1919); Der Knabe Vielnam (1921); Der Junking in Masken
(1922); Der Gletscher (1923); Die let^fe Reise (1923); Der Unvald
(1924).

Silesia is represented in Heimatkunst principally by Hermann
Stehr, though in his work it is a secondary element. PAUL KELLER
(1873-1932), who lived in Breslau, is first and foremost a popular
writer, but there is a leaning to Silesian Marchen and saga in his