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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

432                   MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

attitude to Christianity. His intimate knowledge of the Bible shows
throughout his work; his language is often markedly Biblical; but
he often makes a mockery of Bible texts; e.g. such a text as cwhom
the Lord loveth he chasteneth5 serves him, with much else, for his
angry rejection of the parson's cruel God. After Buchenwald the
love of God is a mockery. The burden of his tales is still a weary
renunciation; comfort is to be sought, not in God, but in nature
with all her bounty and the unfathomable mystery that is within
and behind her; man, emancipated from God and united with
nature, finds himself. There is some show of a reasoned recon-
ciliation with life in Der Knecht Gottes Andreas Nyland (1926), the
story of a clergyman who throws up his living to walk the ways
of Christ among stricken humanity in all stages of society, but
comes to grief. The religious self-abasement, as it seems to some,
of this first stage of Wiechert's mature period, has been branded
as escapism; and indeed by comparison it marks a softening of the
hard post-war doctrine of reclamation of the race and Fatherland
such as we find it in the writings of Ernst Junger. Wiechert's new
idealization of nature and of nature-like man comes out in the
Novellen oŁ Der silberne Wagen (1928) and Die Flote des Pan (1930),
and his spiritual rebirth informs his novel Die kkine Passion (1929),
the hero of which, Johannes, is told as a boy by his mentor, a
freethinker who confirms him in his rebellion against hypocritical
pedagogy and satanized standards of urban living, that what de-
cides is 'blood', not in the sense of sex instinct, but with the mean-
ing that any man acts potentially as his blood, or the imperative
force of his physical nature, impels him. This is from now on
Wiechert's deterministic doctrine; life is decided by blood (spiritual
heredity or race-transmitted qualities). In Wiechert's concept blood
with heredity as its corollary is one of the three saving forces of
existence; the other two are loneliness (or concentration on one's
chosen task in aloofness from distractions) and nature. It might
be argued that if development of character is thus predetermined
then the processes of the Entwicklungsrowan must be ruled out. At
all events, beautiful in some ways as Die kkine Passion is, it affords
proof positive that Wiechert's gospel of the inherent rights of the
strong personality is morally and socially impossible. On the side
of technique the intrigue is inventively poor; if the novel is to be
ranked high it can only be by reason of its mastery of language,
its wealth of allusion, its undertones of poetry, its Bilder, Dufte,