Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

466                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

base of which is that the aim of thought and knowledge-must be
directed to the betterment of life, and that the value of things is
in their relation to their power of service to life. In the autobio-
graphy as a whole we have the same background as in Dichtungund
Wahrheit, but the pattern of Goethe's tale is too fixed to literal fact
to be Carossa's model; actually this is nearer to Goethe's Wahl-
mrwandtschaften with its doctrine of "elective affinities' or inner
relationship (Beluga) between person and person* Carossa himself
indicates the influence in the earlier stages of the autobiography
of the cosmic poet Alfred Mombcrt; this influence, so far as it can
be traced, is one of atmosphere; this world of ours, in Carossa's
term, is one of dream (f?hantasiemlt\ and what Carossa takes over
from Mombert is the conception of walking, as sure as in a dream
(traumsicher\ through a spirit world, with cosmic forces mistily
shifting but inexorably shaping. One element of cosmic philo-
sophy that Carossa stresses is that organic changes come from
light - that is, ultimately from the sun as a life-giving force. The
opposite of light is darkness, which is Carossa's symbol for evil,
If there is light, there must be darkness; evil is therefore a cosmic
element which is as essential as what is good; good and evil, like
light and darkness, are parts of one divinely ordained whole. In
the moral sense, however, good must conquer evil as light must
dispel darkness. We must, therefore, be strengthened by the faith
that healing is hidden in the raging of destructive forces.

Chronologically and primarily Carossa must be classed as an
expressionist, but as such he is essentially a symbolist; since the
great mass of his work is his autobiography he himself in person
is the great symbol for his message to the world; and throughout
his writings he uses scientific phenomena - fauna, flora, etc. - as
symbols. Prominent, too, in his fixed technique are recurrent sym-
bolic happenings - doppelte Zeichen* as he calls them -, double
recordings or double phenomena. These symbols are often recon-
dite, but all converge in the one great lesson that from the chaos
that follows wars a new world must be born, in which mind will
rule - Carossa's Konignich der Seek,, or (with a term that he takes
over from Stefan George) the Third Realm (das Drift* Reich] of
the spirit.

Carossa was born at Tok in Lower Bavaria as the son of a
practising doctor. The name is Italian; we know that his great-
grandfather came from Piedmont and that, after serving as a so*