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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMA  OF  EXPRESSIONISM                  415

nique; and, though the period is distanced from today, no one
can miss the dramatist's intention - this is what automatically
happens wherever there is government by a dictator or dictators.
If there is a fault it is that the tying of the knot is too mathematic-
ally contrived (ausgeklugelt is the best term), but nevertheless the
picture is basically true - both in those desperate days and in
these. In Donadieu (1953), skilfully spun out of Conrad Ferdinand
Meyer's poem Die Fiisse im Fetter, the course of the action proves
once again that right is helpless. But in this play the very heart of
the argument is that vengeance is wrong, even if the means to it
work into the avenger's hands; for, as Judith says to her father,
*Mem ist die Rathe, spricht der Herr\ This denouement seems to run
counter to Hochwalder's constant theme that, in the long run,
right is might, and that tyrants perish because, as history proves,
the will to destroy them springs eternal in the minds of the op-
pressed who, in the nature of the case, are in the majority. Die
Herberge (1956) is labelled 'Dramatische Legende in 3 Akten\ This is
vague; there is nothing legendary in the story; it is literally a story
of our own days, but *Legende does suggest that the action takes
place in a half mythical Marchetnvdt. It is rather a species of moder-
ni2ed mystery play, but to call it that would give the idea of reli-
gious moralizing, of which there is none. The craftsmanship is
first-class; the spectator is held in suspense. Generally speaking, if
appreciation of Hochwalder is to be tempered by criticism it must
be that his plays - with the exception of Hotel du Commerce', which
is, however, of a lighter texture - are all of a piece; his motto is
that of Schiller's Die Rattber: In tirannosl In his Jesuit play only
the idea of service to mankind remains; his Huguenot play ends
with the comfort - for believers - that the Lord will repay. For
a writer so obsessed - but logically, not morbidly - with the
political and social aspects of the world of today, it should not be
surprising that he eliminates love interest - there is a flicker of it
in Hotel du Commerce and Herberge only. This sums up to the con-
clusion that his range is limited. Where he excels is in his con-
trivances of sudden surprises. His denouements are motived either
by mathematical ingenuity (as in Der offentliche Anklager) or by
Wandlung. But Wandlung, if normal, is a slow maturing by the fruits
of experience, whereas in Hochwalder's plays it results from a
crescendo of incontrovertible logic. Actually, as in Der FlucMing
and Herberge, the conversion may be that which we have at a