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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               487

before. As he lies on his plank bed he is hallucinated by the old
familiar rust stains on the ceiling, and as he gazes at them he
remembers that during his period of indoctrination he had fancied
they mapped an island in a far-away southron sea; here was Utopia;
in their separate regions Christians and pagans lived in harmony;
for each religion was as good as the other. The pagans had their
Temple of Dionysos and they still celebrated the mysteries of
Demeter. The difference between them was that for the pagans
nature was enwrapped in the Divine and therefore sinless, with
the Divine accessible to the senses and with no need to be made
perceptible by dogmatic formulas. What he tries to formulate by
a process of logical reasoning is a synthesis of paganism and
Christianity; in essence his musings lead him to the doctrine of
Schiller's poem Die Goiter Griechenlands. The youth confesses his
journeys to Utopia to his professor of dogmatics, who tells him
that no one has ever yet been able to create a Utopia on earth,
not even He. The upshot is that Paco leaves the cloister and as a
sailor and now a soldier has his foil experience of life down to its
dregs. And now in his cell he has a conversation with the lieu-
tenant who is in command of the prisoners; this grubby soldier,
it turns out, has murdered monks and raped nuns, and now he is
in terror of dying unconfessed; and when he finds that this par-
ticular prisoner was once a monk he asks him to hear his con-
fession. There are now dramatic possibilities; Paco with his know-
ledge of the monastery and its rust-frayed window-bars could
escape; and, since he has managed to hide a knife in his pocket,
he could ease escape for himself and his twenty fellow prisoners if,
to begin with, he murders the man he is confessing; but the
Christian teaching of his youth lays hold of him, and when he
knows that the lieutenant has been ordered to murder the prison-
ers to ease retreat before the advancing enemy he prefers to be
machine-gunned with the others. The dramatic tension is well
contrived and held, but what gives the book its value is its frank
and clear discussion of Catholic dogma and of the implications of
the ceremony of confession; 'God loves the world/ his professor
of dogmatics had taught him, "because it is imperfect - Wir sind
Gottes Utopia, aber eines im Werdetf. It is verified Catholic dogma,
this indoctrinated ex-monk tells his penitent, that: 'Die Beicbte isf
mejedes Sakmment ein opus operatum und hangt nicht vom Glauben dts
Sprechenden abJ The trilogy Die Sintflut is reckoned with the great