Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

424                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

he identifies himself with all sorts and conditions of men; very
American sounds -

Icb lebte im Walde, hatte ein Babnhofsamt,
Sassgebeugt fiber Kassabticher und bediente ungeduldige Gaste.
Ah Heifer stand ich vor Kesseln, das Anility grell uberflammt,
Und als RnK ass ich Abfall und Kuchenreste.

The tentacular city is the main theme of ARMIN T. WEGNER'S
(1886- ) Das Antllt^ der Stadte (1917). Wegner, a jack-of-alkrades
('farm labourer, dock labourer, tutor, editor, agitator, lover, idler'
is his own enumeration) had published three other books of verse
(Im Strome verhnn, 1903; Zmschen %wei Stadten, 1909; Gedichte in
Prosa, 1910) before the War, which took him to Mesopotamia and
inspired his and-War book Der Weg ohne Heimkehr; ein Martyrium
in TSriefen (1919). The post-War work of this restless wanderer or,
to use his own term, Toeta Ahasverus', is of the exotic variety:
the lyrics of his Die Strasse mit dm tausend Zielen (1924) carry the
nightmare mood of Das Anility der Stadte over the highroads of
Europe and Asia; and two novels (see p. 378) have a Turkish scene.
The great city, 'die Megan Stadt\ is a nightmare too in the robust
and violent verse of PAUL &ECH (1881-1946), a disciple of DehmeL
He was the declared enemy of die Werkleute aufHaus Njland> whom
he accused of toadying to the industrialists; to their journal he
opposed his own, Das mm Pathos, which counts in the early history
of expressionism; his own visions of Rhenish industry find their
place in the verse of Das schwar^e TLevier (1913) and in the short
stories of Der schwar^e 'Baal (1916), In the poems of Der WaU
(1910) and Die eiserne BrucJke (1914) there is a contrast of the fields
and forests of the Vistula, from which he came, with the misery of
mines (in which he had worked) and factories and factory towns.
His reactions to the War are gathered in the poems of Golgotha
(1920) and the prose of Das Grab der Welt (1919), with its descrip-
tion of the attack on Verdun; the sonnets of Das Ter^ett der Sterns
(1920) escape to some hope of the future, while in the four tales
of Das torichte Her% (1925) the slavery of labour again darkens the
expressionist's vision of man's humanity to man.

All these early or Tialf expressionists' have clear expression of
humanitarian rather than revolutionary ideas, though Paul Zech
sometimes wilfully buries his meaning. The shock troops of ex-