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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMA  OF  EXPRESSIONISM                  397

the Burgtheater, evolve from the hectic naturalism of his first two
plays, In Ewigkeit, Amen (1913), in which his knowledge of law-
court procedure comes to the fore, and Armut (1915) - an official
is stricken with illness, his wife is embittered, the daughter talks
of selling herself to the lodger, while the lyrically exalted son
mouths a hymn to humanity - to what has been called Halb-
expressionismus in Dies Irae (1919), another notorious handling of
the eternal son-father conflict: the son shoots himself with a toy
pistol because the father will not understand him. Uebe (1919)
treats the pathetic dying down of the erotic urge in the married
life of ageing couples. Wildgans had planned a trilogy of Biblical
plays: Kain (1920), Moses•, and Jesus, but only the first was com-
pleted. More lasting probably will be his lyrical work: Herbst-
fruhling (1909), Und hdttet der IJebe nicht (1911), Die Sonette an Ead
(1913)5 Qsterreichische Gedichte (1915), Mittag (1917). There is a
venturesome modernity of thought in some of the poems, often
rawly expressed as in Klmakterium, Dirnen. He analyses his own
sexuality in his Sonette an Ead. Ead is his name for the lover of his
dreams: a poet, the argument runs, cannot be chained to hearth
and wife (Ihm ^iemt %u rasen, \ Wenn aus seinem Leib \ Schwelende
Schwuk nebelt %um Gehirne), and so for him was created die Dime,
but not she who prowls for prey under the lamplight of towns, but
the woman to whom God has given beauty and passion; and so
she queens it over creative spirits. The Queen of all is she who
comforted Christ on the Cross (H.ure und eines Heilands Trost); and
she is Lilith, Astaroth, Omphale, and Salome who, denied her
desire, asked for the head of the prophet on a charger. Dreaming
of the lover of his fevered dreams the poet asks: cAm I faun or
Pan?' As the cycle closes he knows that he has dreamt of her as a
faun, but that now, purified by vision, he is Pan - and Poet. There
is a light lift in the rhythm of the sonnets and a wealth of allusion
and imagery. His Dorfidylle in somewhat clumsy, often flatly pro-
saic hexameters, Rirbisch oder der Gendarm^ die Schande unddas Gluck
(1927) is generally rated higher than Gerhart Hauptmann's Anna.
It is a village idyll which is the reverse of idyllic, as the full title
indicates; actually it is not so much a negative counterpart of
Goethe's Hermann und Dorothea as a symbol of Austria in the last
decaying days of the old Austrian Empire; the gendarme who is
the titular hero is typical of the self-indulgent guzzling Austrian
who took things easy. Musik der Kindheit (1928) is a sketch of his