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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM              477

same leap-frog chronology, the same insertions and divagations
as in Das unausloschliche Siegd\ the multiple threads of the story, as
of the argument, dangle loosely, and may escape the reader's grip.
The reason for this may be the loosening grip of a dying woman's
hand; there are signs that it was finished anyhow. The theme is
once again the renovation of a ruined world by Grace abounding.
Seven people, each oppressed by one of the seven great heresies,
set out in the summer of 1945 from the ruins of Berlin on a pil-
grimage to the monastery of Anastasiendorf ('the village of resur-
rection') in the south of the March of Brandenburg. They are on
pilgrimage to themselves; for their Golden Fleece is to be their
return home regenerated by Grace, saved from sluggishness of
heart and nihilistic despair. Here again there is a daring use of
sexual symbol, and the poetry and the sadness of it all is so lovely
that the moral lesson floats away into limbo: the Golden Fleece
and the soul's uplifting are in the magic and the haunting melody
of the words, not in the austere cloister at the rim of Russia. The
author's defence of herself would be that these pilgrims from the
old to the new are not in history, but between two phases of
civilization; and therefore they are in a state of nature (Natur-
menscheri) and free from all convention and sense of shame. Their
sexual promiscuity as they roam through ruins is thus not im-
morality condoned, but is presented as inevitable, because they
are as yet far from the joy of the spirit - that joy which is the
purpose of God because it is His nature. There is high excellence
in Elisabeth Langgasser's lyric verse, of which the main aspect is
that Greek myth and fable are used for intricate symbolism woven
into all the phases of nature; to her trees, plants, flowers, bees,
animals are literally Demeter. Her cosmic conception is built labori-
ously into stiff rhymes and often into hard rhythms, though there
may be a caressing melodiousness that makes the search for sense
seem otiose. The main obsession is seminal reproduction, of plants
and man. The worst that can be said - but if there were space for
quotation the balance would be to the good - is that because of
overweighting by learned allusions the verse sticks to the page.
Chronologically listed her books of verse are as follows. Der
Wendekreis des Lawms. Ein Hymnus der Erlosung (1924) marks her
first appearance in print. Tierkreisgedichte (1935) is a subtle re-
creation of classical mythology and legendary lore serving for the
symbolkation of modern life; the source is her conception of late