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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE   DRAMA   OF  EXPRESSIONISM                  409

here at his best. Throughout the story the narrator is hemmed in
by perils which have the excitement of romantic fiction; again and
again he escapes by the skin of his teeth from Hitler's gangs, and
in the last stage of the second book, when he is under the super-
vision of the kindlier or more careless Italians in his mountainous
and densely wooded Dalmatian island he is in danger from the
revolutionaries of the macchia (the Serbian maquis). The dramas by
which he is best judged at the moment are the three collected as
EuropaischeTrilogie(i<)<)Z). The first play of the trilogy,^. November,
1918 (1936) throws a glaring light on Austrian trends and moods
at the end of the First World War. The characters are sharply
individualized; they are symbols, but they are tangibly alive and
real, and directly moved, each in his different way, by the tragic
break-up of the Habsburg monarchy after defeat, but also under
the shock of regionalist and socialistic ideology. In this clear and
convincing exposition of revolutionary doctrines and of a new
orientation of ideas 3. November, 191$ follows up Csokor's play
Gesellschaft der Menschenrechte (1929), in which he portrays Georg
Buchner as a revolutionary, for this too lights up the dying down
of mouldy political beliefs and the onrush of a new humanitarian
faith. Nothing could be more striking than this logical polarity in
Csokor's thinking: he remains a Catholic, a conservative, and even
a royalist, but in the clash of convictions from which he shapes his
drama there is equal strength of argument on each side. It was
inevitable that post-war drama should find themes in the resistance
movements in occupied territory. Of these plays the most famous
are Zuckmayer's Der Gesang im Feuerofen and the second play of
Europdische Trilogie, Csokor's Besefytes Gebiet (1930), the scene of
which is a town in the Ruhr. Here the polarity of parties is vividly
rendered: the hero is the mayor, who is convinced that the wisest
course for Germany is to submit and to atone for the injuries done
in a war which must be recognized as brutal aggression. He is
faced by a group of five partisans (Freischdrkr\ whose aim is to
inflict the greatest possible damage by clandestine attacks on the
occupying French forces. Der verlorene Sohn (1946), the third play
of the group, was originally written in blank verse, and for the
best part this remains, though printed as prose; what results is a
singsong dialogue which gives an air of unreality to the crass
happenings, though it more or less fits the underlying approxima-
tion of part of it to the story of Bethlehem at Christmas. The