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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

396                    MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

Ferdinand, Prin^ von Preussen (1913), both influenced by Heinrich
von Kleist; both have actually the same problem as Kleist's Der
Prin^ von Homburg ~ whether an officer is entitled to act contrary
to his instructions, even when success is achieved by insubordin-
ation. The experience of the War turned von Unruh into a pacifist.
The revulsion from war which was to become a general feature of
German literature began as early as 1914 with his dramatic poem,
written in the field, Vor der Entscheidung (published 1919). The
prose epic Opfergang, written during the fight for Verdun in 1916,
was published in 1918. Ein Geschlecht (1917), a verse drama, is a
phantasmagoria of orgiastic passions let loose by war: there is a
tragic mother two of whose sons have been condemned to death,
one for cowardice and the other for violating women (he cannot
conceive why the individual in war should not have the same right
to cut through law that the State has); he even rages with incestu-
ous desire for his sister, who feels the same flame. Sister and
brother curse their mother, in whom they see merely a tool of the
State producing sacrifices for the State. In the sequel, Plafy (1920),
the restoration of order is shown to depend on the victory of
expressionistic ethics: humanity must turn away from mechanized
civilization and find salvation in the love of all for all. Sturme
(1923) continues Unruh's fight for his concepts of a new ethical
doctrine which grants freedom of the will, while Heinrich von Ander-
nach (1925), a Festspiel written for the celebration of the millennium
of the Rhineland, calls for peace among the nations. In Bonaparte
(1927) the proclamation of Napoleon as Emperor is stultified by
his judicial murder of the Due d'Enghien. In Unruh's Renaissance
novel Die Heilige (1951) Catherine of Siena, determined to save the
soul of an atheist, feels an inrush of earthly love in his presence; 'this
is the grave', he tells her in her cell; 'the bride of Christ must choose
between two bridegrooms, between the call of the senses and that
of mystic devotion to an idea/ The novel is starred with a motto
from Balzac: Tacts are nothing. They do not exist. Nothing re-
mains to us but ideas.' Thus in Unruh's work generally, crude and
violent as it may seem, the driving force is the mysticism of ideas
mightier than law and custom. This is the tenor too of the some-
what grotesquely handled novel Furchtetnichts (1952), which plays
round the accouchement of the court goat at St Petersburg.

The dramas of the Viennese writer ANTON WILDGANS (1881-
1932), who for a time, after experience as a judge, was director of