Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

504                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

novel, Die ttnbekann/e Gritise (1933)* is conventional in plot and
treatment; but he went over to the polyhistoric form of fiction as
handled by Joyce, Proust, and Kafka in his trilogy Die Schlaf-
wandler, a long drawn out chronicle which dissects middle-class
German life from 1888 to 1918. The first volume, Pasenow oder die
Jtemantik iSSS (1931) shows a period dominated by the military
class. The commercial magnate in this section is taken over into
the second volume, Ilsch oder die Anawhh 1903 (1931), to face his
contrary, an anarchist book-keeper. The latter appears again in
the third volume, Il/(ffteua/t oder die SacblichkeiJ 190$ (1932), and is
reduced to ruin by a deserter who has turned business man and is
successful in all his dealings. From stage to stage of the triptych
we see the decay of values and the disintegration of religious faith.
Joyce's technique of inner monologue is effectively handled in
Broch's masterpiece, Der Tod des l^erg// (ic)4$); this prose poem-
for it is nothing less - is one of the most brilliant of those visionary
existential tales in which past, present, and future are one dimen-
sion (Zdtlosigkeif). Virgil, on the point of dying, looks back wist-
fully on the stages of his development as man and poet, and in
discussions with friends and the Kmperor Augustus brands his
Aemid as a failure because it swerves from truth and falls short of
perfection in what is humanly and poetically vital; for in these
last hours the world, to which the true God is about to come, is
revealed to the poet as a mystery rich beyond speaking, ruled by
eternal love. Only the remonstrances of the Emperor prevent him
from destroying the poem. The three-dimensional conception of
time is again the groundwork of Dh Schuldlosen (1950). The period
chronicled, 1918 to 1933, directly continued that of Die Scblaf-
wandkr^ and 'the guiltless* are average types who, with one war
and the time before it to look back to and another projected, are
callous and passive and not conscious that their ethical indiffer-
ence creates the atmosphere for the totalitarian State which looms
ahead, In Der Vermcher (1954), published after Broch's death, we
see the Nasi concepts working ruin symbolically ia a mountain
village; Hitler appears as Marius with his dwarf-like accomplice

HEIMITO VON DODERER (1896- } may be classed as a neo-realist
ia the seasc that he is fundamentally realistic, but his relationship
to magic realism is patchy. Oae may rather say that he continues
Musil and the magic realists but that he launches out ia different