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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMA   OF   EXPRESSIONISM                  403

full scope, and he scoffs at the catchword 'barlachsche Plastik*. Even
the patriarch Noah in Die Sundflut is intended to be congenitally
comic; his stage figure is to be in the nature of a landed proprietor
walking heavily with a stick. Involved symbols of mysticism still
wreathe the visionary shapes and the dream-like action of his later
plays. Der Graf von Rat^eburg (1951) is the mystical story of a feudal
lord who sets out to seek God; the lesson of it, *icb habe keinen
Gott, Gott hat micb\ comes close to Kafka's teaching. There is
marked originality of tone and treatment in his autobiography, Ein
selbster^ahltes Leben (1928), and there are autobiographical threads
and snatches in the posthumously published novels Seespeck (1948)
and Der gestohlene Mond (1948). His posthumous Fragmente am sehr
fruher Zeit (1939) consist of sketches and miniature essays. Essen-
tial for comprehension of man and artist are his letters: Aus meinen
'Briefen (1947) and Barlach: 'Leben und Werk in seinen Briefer? (1952).
Obviously these new dramatists make a desperate attempt to
expand the scope of drama. The plays of HANS HENNY JAHNN
(1894- ) have to be considered because, revolting as they often
are, they are symptomatic. Because of the sexual extravagances of
his themes Jahnn has earned the title of Prophet der Un^ucht. His
first plays illustrate his declared conviction that 'man is capable of
anything'. The hero of his Pastor Ephram Magnus (1919) is a young
clergyman whose nature as a modern man is made by brute in-
stinct; he seeks God by way of torture and throttles his sister be-
cause of her incestuous love for him. Incest is again the theme of
Der gestohlene Gott (1923), and abnormal sex relations are the subject
of Der Ar%t, sein Weib, sein Sohn (1922). In Die Kronung Richards III
(1921) Richard murders in the exasperation of his rage at the decay
of his own body, and the Dowager Queen Elizabeth murders the
boys she has enjoyed. His Medea (1926) has the eyes torn out of a
messenger who comes with bad news. Discussion of Jahnn flared
up again when in 1948 Armut, J&ichtum, Mensch und Tier, written
in 1934, was performed: a Norwegian farmer is rent by his mystic
love for a horse and is tragically caught between two women. In
Thomas Chatterton (195 5) he drives in the opposite direction from
Ernst Penzoldt's pathetic Novelle Der arme Cbatterton: in Jahnn's
tragedy Chatterton fights for the prerogatives of his genius, and
even if he resorts to cheating the cause of this is his inborn clever-
ness; he fights fate with the strength of his will; he is beaten, but
that is the fate of genius. The defence of Jahnn, who is an ultra-