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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               471

ence or of philosophical interpretation of things and phenomena.
Thus we have poems which record remembered emotion and
poems which interpret the doctrine of growth by organic change.
There are a series of poems with exact though subtly imaged des-
cription of flora and fauna. Philosophically considered the most
important poems are those in which we find the sun as life-giver
(Gesang %ur Sonne), the organic certainty of healing and renovation,
and the call to a resolute acceptance of whatever ills may befall,
in the faith that, if the demons of evil are fought with manly
determination, nature herself will bring recovery (An die Natur).
FRANK THIESS (1890- ), like Werner Bergengruen a Latvian, is
one of those who, while influenced by expressionism and, in their
later work, by existentialist tenets, are in the main impressionists
and realists. As good a term as any is transparenter "&.ealismus\ this
is used for writers, such as Hermann Hesse too, whose base of
realism is in the main ideological and is illuminated by what Thiess
calls 'die Scheinwerfer der Erkenntnis'. Thiess - whose mother, an
Eschenbach, is said to have been a descendant of Wolfram von
Eschenbach - began with Der Tod in Falern (1921), the tale of a
dying town, and won through to fame with Die Verdammten (i 922),
an epic unfolding of the decay of the Baltic aristocracy; the theme
is incest of brother and sister. In Angelika ten Swaart (1923) we
find the "associative thinking' and word symbolism of existential-
ism; e.g. the name of the American research worker in medicine
who marries Angelika, a Dutch aristocrat of aristocrats, is Morr;
this by verbal suggestion verified by the course of the action is
mors, la mort^ or even Mord\ and the pith of the meaning is: to the
bride in the marriage night comes Death in the shape of the bride-
groom; for he induces physical changes that bring the beginning
of death. But the association of ideas is more complicated than
this: to Angelika, Morr is a stranger; he is plebeian; and yet, as
life fades, she realizes that she loves the father of her child. Death
loves life, and in the end Life loves Death. In Frauenraub (1928)
we have a daring exploration of sexual states: an architect marries
a frail girl of nineteen; she is a disappointing bride: she can only
give her husband excitement, not surrender -, for she has been
physically spoilt by a Lesbian affair with an older woman. Das Tor
der Welt (1926) explores the sexual awakening of a group of sixth
form boys and girls in a small town in the Harz; here again we
have word symbolism and the rest; e.g. Gjmnasiast is related to