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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

472.                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

s, 'naked'. In Der We& %a IsabeJ/e (1934) a German in the
south of France has an affair, in 1914, with the daughter of a
French officer who will not hear of their marriage. The lovers are
torn asunder by the outbreak of war; the girl gives birth to a
female child. Twenty years later the German learns that the mother
had been killed by bombs, but he discovers a girl who in the light
of evidence seems to be his daughter, and as such he adopts her
and takes her to Germany. But she has led a loose life; sexual
experience is in her blood; and she tells her presumed father that
she would love him sexually even if she were sure he were her
father. It turns out that he is not, and the presumption is that he
marries her, though this is not stated. From a rapid indication of
Thiess's field of fiction it might seem that he pounces on sen-
sational best-seller themes; this is, however, far from the truth;
he is a psychiatrist and he probes quietly and deep. The 'keusche
Entblossungetf of Der Weg %# Isabelk led to his rejection by Nazi
critics on the score of morbidity, though 'Tsushima^ der Rowan eines
Seekrieges (1936), which shows the heroic inception of the modern
might of Japan, might have been expected to rehabilitate him.
WERNER BERGENGRUEN (1892- ) was born, as the scion of a
patrician house, at Riga, which at that time was in Russia. His
name (-gruenis Swedish ^m/, * branch*) indicates the Swedish pro-
venance of his family; it will be remembered that Latvia was once
a province of Sweden. After completing his university course at
Berlin he fought as a volunteer for the Germans in World War I
and after the war against the Russians in the Baltische Landwehr
in his homeland* He stresses that, though his themes cover the
many lands he made himself at home in, the fundament of his
work is his nostalgia for that heritage of the Baltic provinces -
Livonia, Esthonia and Courland - which he felt to be the core of
his being. Here in the great ports with their Hanseatic traditions
the German-speaking upper strata, the great merchants and the
landowners, were marked off from the working classes. During
the Nazi period several of his works were banned; later he was
placed under surveillance but allowed to write. He emigrated from
Munich to Achenkirch in the Tyrol, from where, in 1945, friends
managed to smuggle him into Switzerland. At Achenkirch he had
written resistance poems which he recited at clandestine meetings.
His first novel was Das Gesefy <ks Atum (1923), which has auto-
biographical elements, Dasff-osse Alkahest (i^zd*), which followed,