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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

368                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

A.D. 2700-3000. The technological novel had scored its most
popular success with BERNHARD KELLERMANN'S (1879-1951) Der
Tunnel (1913), in which the building of a tunnel under the Atlantic
is described. But while Der Tmne/uses engineering in Jules Verne's
way to provide the elements of an exciting story, Berge, Meere und
Giganten subordinates the story to the problem of the mechaniza-
tion of the cosmos; it is the idea of Samuel Butler's Erewhon that
machinery is destined to become master of man. As the slave of
machinery, man goes to battle with nature; with the fire of Ice-
land's volcanoes he frees Greenland from ice; but nature turns on
him and puts him in his proper place - down with the beasts of
the earth; the Wandlung to a new humanity is not to be achieved
by an ascent of man to God over an enslaved nature but by a
humble return of man to nature. 'Berlin Alexanderplafc^ (1929) is
notable as the first thorough-going German imitation - after
Jahnn's Perrudja (see p. 404) - of James Joyce's Ulysses. The hero
serves a sentence for murder, lives as a bully, is arrested unjustly
for the murder of a prostitute, and after a period in a lunatic
asylum ends as a porter. As a detailed picture of the lowest Berlin
life the novel has interest; as a continuous recording of the waves
of thought and sensation in this typical brute it fails, because even
a practising physician cannot guarantee the authenticity of such
streaming consciousness in a person of such limited mentality.
When in 1933 Doblin's books were banned and burned, he found
refuge in Paris; during the German occupation he found his way
to California, but returned to Germany after the war and joined
the Roman Catholic Church. His Catholic outlook on world prob-
lems appears at once in his mystery novel Der Oberst undder Dichter
oder das menschliche Her% (1946) and in his autobiographical Schick-
salsreise. "Rericht' undBekenntnisse (1949). In Die Babylonische Wanderung
oder Hochmut kommt vor dem "Fall (1934) a Babylonian god experi-
ences the comicality and the misery of existence here below, far don
wirdnichtgegeben (193 5) pictures post-war conditions and the perils
of proletarian and Nazi ideology; a middle-class profiteer is in-
duced by his dominating mother to give up the revolutionary
convictions of his youth for safety's sake; problematically con-
sidered his natural development is thwarted by family interference.
There is complex symbolic inference and a destructive analysis of
cultural and political tendencies in our own days, as well as of
religious pretence through the ages, in Doblin's next work, the