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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

402                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

action of the play, blind with gazing on misery and with, for sole
possession, a stone which symbolizes sorrow; ca man*, he says, 'is
he who takes up the sorrow of others'. Sonnenross being slain,
no dawn comes, but dense darkness swathes all - the 'dead day'
of home and cradling mother love. Materialism has put out the
light of idealism. In Die Sundflut Noah, a holy man, faces Calan,
the embodiment of evil, who is drowned; but the two antagonists
are equally near to God; with Barlach as with Kafka (p. 459) evil
is part of good; evil is created by God, and itself creates; Jehovah
himself is created by those he creates. The Nazis branded Barlach
as degenerate ('ah Untermensch und mmderrassig'}> as one 'besessen vom
Damon der ostisch-slawischen Menschbeitsgruppe\ and his sculptures in
public places were removed or destroyed. It is true that a two
months' stay in Russia in 1907 had given him, as he says, his idea
of limitless space in which human shapes - peasants, shepherds,
beggars - stand out firmly chiselled and crystallized (he had the
same experience as Rilke); hence in his work he tries to give a
conception of 'das Menscblichi firmly fixed in the sweeping vast of
infinity. His bent to mystical configuration was strengthened by
a visit to Italy in 1909, and by his intense study of Theodor Dau-
bler's mythological poetry, by the radiance shining down from
Daubler's land of stars on his own vale of tribulation here below.
A revival and intensification of interest in Barlach's work, sculp-
ture and drama, dates from 1945; it coincides with the vogue of
existentialism and is partly to be explained by this. As a sculptor
outward form was nothing to him; what he seeks to show forth
is the soul beneath the surface; and man as a unity of body and
soul lives, not in an environment of ideal beauty, but in a world
mysteriously moved by the dark forces of fate. Hence, he says,
the Russian, the Asiatic type, who can only be understood mystic-
ally, is more related to his own nature than his contemporaries
covered by the folds of culture. 'Ichsab am Menschen das Verdammte^
gkichsam Verfexte, aber auch das Ur-Wesenbafte\ The purpose of
life, he affirms, is to fight the battle of life against darkness; and
in his dramas this battle of two forces is expressed, not so much
in the clash of argument, reproof and retort, as in the character's
communing with his inner self. But although his dramas matter
for their meaning, he protests against their being acted too solemnly
as mysteries; he wishes the humour that is an essential part of
their build-up ('es ist em Berg Humor in der Sundflu /*) to be given