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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM   AND   SURREALISM               501

tation of twelve poems. He has found an audience for his heart-
to-heart talks with a homilectic tendency (Von Mensch %u Mensch,
1949). As a novelist he is at his best in Unruhige Nacht (1950): a
Lutheran chaplain serving in the Ukraine in 1942 has the duty of
comforting the last hours of a young soldier condemned to be
shot for desertion. There are telling vignettes of the brutal com-
manding officer and of the first lieutenant to whom duty is duty.
What gives the Novelle distinction is that what passes in these
night hours epitomizes the spiritual climate of the last years of
the war.

MANFRED HAUSMANN (1898- ) is an existentialist on the Pro-
testant side; he was a freethinker converted to Christianity by the
study of Kierkegaard and Karl Barth. He began with short stories
(Frublingsfeier, 1924; Die Verirrten, 1927; Begegnung, 1936); the
Novellen of Demeter (1936) have autobiographical interest. He
leapt into fame with his L,ampioon kMsst Madden und kleine Striken
(1928)5 the tale of a tramp (Stromer] who, after committing a
murder, roams the roads as a lover of lasses and landscapes. Very
noticeable here and in the fiction that follows is the influence of
Jens Peter Jacobsen and in particular of Knut Hamsun. There is
a pensive mood, relieved by the ebullience of younger years as
contrasted with Hamsun's age-worn weariness, in the next batch
of his tales of the open road, Salut gen Himmel (1929); by now
Hausmann's tramps rove the inner world of the spirit, but still
with the open-heartedness of the earlier tales of an outer world
of adventure. In 1929 he travelled in the United States and des-
cribed his adventures in his travel book Kleine Liebe ^u Amerika
(1930), and after his return a new zest in life comes to the fore in
his novel Abet wit der Mundharmonika (1932). The scene otAbscbied
von der Jugend (1937) unrolls experiences during a trip round Ice-
land; the theme is the problem of wedlock. Hausmann's religious
Wandlung is the substance of his essay Einer muss wachen (1951), in
the second volume of his Gesammelte Scbriften; now he is at grips
with the inner problems of existence and finds the only possible
solution in absolute acceptance of Christianity. The shock of con-
version had been conveyed in the short story Der Uberfall (1947)'
a glass painter has suddenly lost his mind, it is thought; it turns
out that the attack has been spiritual: eer bat mich uberfallen\ he
whispers to a visitor; to the question 'Who?' the answer is 'God*.