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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

474                   MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

as *eine slcb ereignete tmerhorte UfagebctibeiF, but Bergengruen's un-
heard of event is a manifestation of eternal laws, the effect of which
tends to be, not so much a chance happening as a religious Wand-
lung, a moral regeneration which does not always carry conviction;
it is rather fixed up or a$t$ffkl8$plt than inevitable. There are sen-
sational elements, as for instance in 'Rosen am Galgenhofy (1923) and
Scbimmlnuter bat michgpssen (1923). At all events these eminently
readable short stories, whether single (Der spaniscbe Rosenstock,
1940; llonmnger lkiwmh> 1942; Scbatygrabergescbichte) 1943; Das
Tewpelchen> 1950) or grouped (Dk Stiltaasrose^ 1946; Sternenstand>
1947) have just the components which make translations saleable,
Typical is Der ktitfe fdttmehter (*95*); here we have a Rahmn-
er^ahlung, tales strung together with the life story of the narrator
framing them in; we arc made to realize that this last captain of
horse is such a 'shining fool* as Bayard or Bertrand du Guesclin.
He is the last of his class because he has done his last fighting
against the Red Army. Bergcngrucn meets him in his old age in
a village on a North Italian lake. Throughout the book we have
Bergengruen's characteristic note, that subtle blend of Baltic East
and Russia with Southern European moods and feeling. In this
respect Bergengruen pairs with HENRY VON HKISELER (1875-1928);
both have translated Russian classics, and both in their best work
have an undertone of love for the Russia of the good old days.
There is the same tone in the sequel to Der kfitfe EJttmister; in
Die Rittmeisterfa (1954) the captain is dead, but the narrator meets
a lady who was his friend and memories are revived in yet another
string of tales. Another collection of tales which cluster round the
Baltic coast and Riga is Die Ft&mme im Sauhnbofy (1955)-1* Osfer-
gruss, Secbs Eryahtungen (195 j) there are tales from both the Russia
of the Czars and of the Communists. Zmesekhen (195 x) is a delight-
ful children's book written by Bergengruen for his own children.
As a lyric poet Bergengruen is best known for the 'resistance
poems' of his Dies Irae (1945), which were written in the Tyrol
and privately circulated* A few of these may survive, as historically
indicative, though all the resistance poems of the period tend to
fall into a common mould which palls with familiarity; the form
is as a rule so immaculately regular - sonnets are favoured - that
there can be no lasting popular appeal There is something of a
declamatory effect in An Me Volker Jtr Erde, a call to the nations
of the world to repent for the guilt they incurred in the twelve