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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM              497

have an all-night discussion, in which Charles agrees that Spanish
policy has morally ruined state and nation. He shows Las Casas,
whom he appoints Bishop of Chiapa, the new laws he has drawn
up, in virtue of which the Indios are to be declared free. There is
an indication that when the new laws are promulgated they will
turn out to be impossible; for the system of slave labour is so
firmly fixed that it cannot suddenly be overthrown, and history
tells us that in fact Charles had to repeal them. The problem - and
the interest - is here psychological: in the interview with Las
Casas Charles is shown to be worn and weary. He is baffled; he
sees that he has been unfaithful to Gospel teaching. He calls in his
son Philip - later Philip II - who listens to the new laws and
approves them. Charles has just been forced by the Moors to raise
the siege of Algiers, which he had conducted in person. He is a
beaten man, and every reader who knows Platen's sonnet sees him
in the not distant future laying down his multiple crowns and
immuring himself in the cloistered peace of San Yuste. The situ-
ation with the salient details is strikingly identical with that in
Felix Braun's drama Kaiser Karl der Funfte, which had appeared
two years previously (see p. 519); in Schneider's essay we have the
humiliation of defeat because Charles has withdrawn from the walls
of Algiers, in the drama because he has been driven from Inns-
bruck; in the drama Charles is convinced by Luther's Articles
as explained by Prince Max, the future Emperor Maximilian, and
in the essay the future King Philip II is called in to the audience
chamber to approve of the new laws; and in both plays there
is a visit to the mad queen mother, Juana la loca. The two works
of course coincide because they both keep close to history. But
Felix Braun is, by comparison, a passive narrator, while Reinhold
Schneider is himself in the thick of the clash and conflict of then
as of today and lashed with indignation - he is himself Las Casas
fighting his great fight for truth, freedom, and peace. He will be
remembered, as Las Casas is remembered, for his fight against the
tyranny of a dictator: in 1941 he was forbidden to publish any-
thing, in 1943 he was accused vtDefaitismw and in 1945 of Var-
benitung ^um Hochverrat; in spite of all this his writings and poems
were illegally printed, while his pamphlets were lithographed or
printed and disseminated throughout Germany. He escaped to
Switzerland, where he continued his activities, Schneider has also
written short stories which, though attractively fictional, are his-