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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

404                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

respectable organ-builder in Hamburg, is that he is trying to pierce
to the very roots of Freudian complexes; and if he is given credit
for experimental psychiatry he at least deserves consideration by
the side of Ernst Barlach. There is experimentation in his novel
Perrudja (2 vols., 1929), a pioneer attempt in the manner of James
Joyce's Ulysses., and still more in the trilogy of novels Fluss ohne
Ufery written in the Danish island of Bornholm, where Jahnn had
found asylum during the Hitler terror; he had a farm there, and
bred horses. The outward structure is that of grand opera: Part i,
Das Hofyschiff (1937) is the overture; Part II, Die Niederschrift des
Gustav Anias Horn (Vol. I, 1949; Vol. II, 1950) is the body of the
work; Part III, Epilog (1952) is the finale.1 The inner action runs
on in themes, strophes, fugues, motifs, accords, rhythms. Music,
Jahnn says, took its build-up from poetry; the novel is entitled to
take back what music took. In Das Hofyschiffz three-master sails
away on a mysterious voyage; the captain's daughter, Ellena, dis-
appears mysteriously. All on board are in danger, for Unseen
Powers are at the helm; this is life on the shoreless river. The
crew mutiny; the ship is wrecked, and sinks into the deeps taking
its mystery with it. These mysteries are revealed in Part II. Ellena
has been murdered by one of the sailors, Tutein, who for twenty
years is swept about the world in close intimacy with the girl's
betrothed, Anias Horn. The narration of their experiences in the
ports of South America, in the coast lands of Africa, and in the
lovely regions of Norway wallows in atrocious perversions and
vices, which rise continuously like islands from this shoreless river
of life. But the magic of art and music begin to weave into the tale
and in the Epilogue (the finale, a rondo, coro, minuetto) the sense and
texture of the complex weft is disentangled, while prospects open
out which reflect Jahnn's central vision as it pierces through the
overhanging gloom to primeval causes, which, being in the blood,
make evil urges innocent. Fluss ohne Ufer with its wide sweep must
be ranged with those monumental novel trilogies of recent years
which have opened out new vistas (pp. 308,355,369). The difficulty
for the reader is that Jahnn's trio is fitted not merely to musical tech-
nique but also to mathematical propositions. The physicist, Jahnn
reminds us, proclaims that Time is an unknown dimension. What
Time holds is Fate, and nothing is constant except Fate. And so
Fate, being constant, cannot be changed by the Past into the
1 Jahnn's scheme may be based on Wagner's Ring.