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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

400                  MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

- the dog may die, but the fleas live on. There is no intention of
glorifying Mother Courage as 'heroic'; she is just as she is seen,
greedy of the gain she can snatch, foul-mouthed, fighting to the
last - for this is the Hell we know life is. In Galileo Galilei (1942)
the astronomer formally abjures his discoveries at the bidding of
Church and Inquisition as a price to be paid for being allowed to
prolong his life with its creature comforts; he is guilty of that
passive acceptance of tyranny which enables tyrants to keep their
power. But the play ends on a note of confidence - eppur si muove.
Der kaukasische Kreidekreis (i 947), also set to music by Paul Dessau,
is based on an old Chinese play1: a rich, heartless mother abandons
her baby, which is rescued by a servant girl, to whom it is ad-
judged by the Chinese test of the chalk circle which reminds one
of the judgment of Solomon. Herr Pmtila und sein Knecht (1948)
has a fine setting in the lakes and woods of Finland; it shows the
unbridgable gap between a servant and his master, who is only
human when he is drunk. As a lyric poet Brecht, influenced to
begin with by Rimbaud and Villon, gave new life to the old ribald
l$ankelliedm}ti$ Hauspostiile (1927) and L/fl&r, Gedichte, Chore (1934).
Hundert Gedichte (1950; poems 1918-50) and Gedichte und Lieder
(1956) are selections.

ARNOLT BRONNEN (1895-1944; born in Vienna) wrote the most

##/#/son-father tragedy, Vatermord'(1920): the son stabs his father

when the latter breaks into the bedroom where his mother, naked,

is trying to seduce him. In Anarchie in Sillian (1924) there is an

industrial strike and the nightmare of machinery, Katalamische

SMacht (i 924) has one terrific scene in the (comparatively speaking)

concrete comfort of a trench in the deafening din of drum-fire:

the brother of the commanding officer comes with his batman - a

woman dressed as a soldier; the commanding officer sends his

brother to certain death, and takes the woman himself; after the

war the soldiers who have known of this act pursue the officer

through the hell of the inflation, hound him to death, and fight

for the woman themselves. There is in Bronnen's plays a wild

haste and scurry and the sensationalism of the cinema: his aim is

to quicken drama to the rushed pace of contemporary life; and he

is more cinematographic in his plays than in his novel of film life,

Film und Leben Barbara la Marr (i928).

'Explosive diction' or frantic expressionism runs through the

1 Sec p. 363,