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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

4l8                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

geschichte, MotiviK). And all this thematic multiplicity can be ranged
under the three headings of (i) Icbgebalt, that interest in self which
necessarily inspires the Nietzschean or decadent cult of person-
ality; (2) Weltgehalt, the cosmic feeling of those poets (Dehmel,
Mombert, George, etc.) who would have the individual strive
upward to a lofty ideal derived from contemplation of the divine;
(3) Zeitgehalt or Tender^ the lyric creed of those who would reform
the institutions of temporal earth, and reverse traditional notions
of morality, and either overthrow or glorify the State.

The social revolt goes back to naturalism and develops from
the downright accusations of Armehutepoesie (Dehmel, KarlHenc-
kell, etc.) to a more philosophic consideration of the lot of the
masses as conditioned by the help (Gerhart Hauptmann's Im
Nacht^ug, Winckler, etc.) or the tyranny (Paul Zech, etc.) of
machinery. The most vigorous expression of these two phases is
in the verse of the working-men poets (Arbeiterdichter). These
poets are not necessarily free-thinking Socialists: Karl Broger,
Heinrich Lersch and Jakob Kneip were Catholics. The themes
which dominate in their work are: (i) life in workshop and factory;
(2) the problem of machinery and the revolt against the reduction
by capitalism of man to a machine; (3) the relations of the working
man to society (die arbeiterliche Lebensgestaltung). But the handling
of these themes is not as a rule personal: the poet speaks for his
fellow-workmen; and the political party has the relation to his
poetry that the university has to the work of academically trained
writers: it gives the lines of approach and attack.

The eldest of the working-men poets was KARL BR6GER (1886-
1944), a builder's labourer in Nuremberg. Before the War he had
published one volume: Die singende Stadt. The patriotic poem he
wrote when the War came, T$ekenntnis, made him famous; this
lyric then appeared in his book of War poems, Kamerad, als mr
marscbiert (1916). Later verse volumes are flamme (1920); Hjmnen
und'Balladen (1924), Deutschland(1924). In his cycle of verse legends
Die vier^ehn Notbelfer he describes the misery of the post-War
years, and in his autobiographical novel DerHeldim Schatten (1919)
he pleads for the raising of the intellectual standard of the working
man's life. His novel Guldenschuh (1934) attempts a picture of
Nuremberg in the Middle Ages.

There is a higher poetic level in the lyric work of HEINRICH
LERSCH (1889-1936), a boiler-maker of Munchen-Gladbach on the