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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  NOVEL   OF   EXPRESSIONISM                  373

to Bernadette's consecration as a saint. It would be unfair to credit
Werfel with denigration of the Catholic Church; indeed a Catholic
may well read the tale with edification and approval, for the main
impression conveyed is that of the rock-like sincerity of the high
prelates whose portraits are drawn with practised skill Very vivid
is the character sketch of the Bishop of Tarbes, a great prelate
sprung from the people, but with the strong man's contempt for
the mass of humanity. As to the miracles, they are narrated soberly
and without bias in either direction; we have a picture of cures
which baffle the science of doctors; and in one terrible chapter at
the end of the book, gruesomely headed 'The Hell of the Flesh',
we have a Dantesque panorama of disease with no hope of relief
save by miracle - if miracle there be. And Bernadette herself is
afflicted; we see her sicken and die of tuberculosis. But she is
transfigured, not disfigured, by her suffering, because by her very
nature she loves the divine mystery which is before us all. Werfel's
last novel, Stern der Ungeborenen (1946), completed two days before
he died in America, is a species of Divina Commedia up to date:
F.W. is guided by a new Virgil over an 'astromentaP world of
aeons to be, a world in which all that has afflicted mankind -
nations, labour, disease, even death - exists no more; man has
conquered all - except himself. There is the 'dwelling wilderness*
(Wohnwusfe) of culture in final conflict with the joyfully coloured
oases (farbenfrohe Oaseri) of the jungles; and the working men from
the jungles conquer the intellectuals: in their waste world working
men can subsist without intellectuals, but not the reverse.

In Franz Werfel expressionism culminates. But his later work,
clinging as it does to clear facts (e.g. Verdi is impeccable musical
history and criticism), moves in the direction of the phase which
(nominally at least) displaces expressionism. - die Neue Sachlichkeit.
The aim of the writers of this group is atomistic exactitude, but
not merely in the painting of externals; they seek to penetrate into
the last recesses of psychic reality, and to show a 'more real reality',
illuminated, and serviceable because made intelligible. The final
phase of this new sense of reality is the Tatsachenroman: things that
have actually occurred are related in the form of a novel, as in
Carl Haensel's (1889- ) Der Kampfums Matterhorn (1928), or in the
autobiographical tales of the workmen poets.

The transition is discernible in the short stories of ARNOLD ZWEIG
(i 8 87- ): he moves away from psychological probing and aesthetic